When Maria played WTT the attendance was standard, but when Stefi played around the same time, there was a sold out crowd--that should tell you something.
When it comes right down to it, Maria's popularity among non-tennis fans is greatly exaggerated by her IMG Public Relations agents. Yesterday, Maria announced her engagement and the web was abuzz with Anna Kournikova searches. As a matter of fact, at one point yesterday, Anna Kournikova was the top search topic on Yahoo! while Maria Sharapova was #4. This is proof of what I've said before, that non-tennis fans mistake Sharapova for the ever-popular Anna Kournikova. Maria Sharapova came along at a time when Kournikova was at the height of her popularity, but had disappeared from the tennis circuit. Sharapova benefited greatly from her fellow Russian's popularity and disappearance because most non-tennis fans assume they are the same person.
Further proof of IMG exaageration is in the numbers. When it comes to drawing a crowd at non-grandslam events, Maria's presence does not improve attendance any more than usual. The Australian Open final between Sharapova and Ivanovic was one of the least watched Aussie Open finals this decade, registering slightly above Henin/Mauresmo in 2006, which ended with Henin retiring. As a matter of fact, the highest rated Sharapova matches often involve a Williams sister, one of the Belgians, Capriati, and (surprisingly) Hingis.
As long as I've been following tennis, I've never heard an organizer make a big deal when Sharapova withdraws or skips their tournament, which is important because if Sharapova was as big a draw as IMG would have you believe, tournaments would insist on her presence. She's definitely bigger and more popular than most players on the WTA tour, but not the super-draw that IMG promotes her as.
Sharapova has a huge teenage and pre teen fan base. Young guys like her and young girls want to be like her. You won't find many older people who are big Sharapova fans, which might explain the circumstances like having little or no impact on improving tournament attendance as I stated above. Graf on the other hand, had a crossover appeal to both younger and older fans and she accomplished that even with the disadvantage of not having a huge sports marketing firm behind her the way Maria Sharapova does with IMG.