Maria Sharapova is not just a famous professional tennis player and a former World Nr. 1. She is also well known for being the Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development program and donations to Chernobyl-recovery projects.

Maria was born on April 19, 1987, in Russia. Her parents moved from place to place to escape the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Finally, they relocated to town Sochi, where Maria, watching her father in playing courts, took her first racket and felt in love with tennis. She was only four-year-old then.

It wasn't hard to notice that the little girl had special talent for this sport. While playing in Moscow, she was noticed by a famous tennis player who mentioned to her father that Maria really has talent for tennis. Soon after that Yuri, Maria's father decided to help his only daughter reach her potential. And so they both left to America to find her the best coach possible.

Though Maria's talent was obvious, she was too young to become a full-time student at IMG's Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida. While her father was working odd jobs, the young girl was training, and soon began to accumulate victories in various tournaments.

Being nine-year-old she received a scholarship to the Academy. She was separated from her father for seven months. Intense training with older players and separation from family was undoubtedly very hard for such a young girl. But Maria didn't lose her heart and was devoted to the game.

Her first famous victory was achieved in 2000. There, 13-year-old Maria did a wonderful job in the Girls' 16-and-under Eddie Herr Championships. This was only the first victory that gained her success. Sharapova is the first Russian female to ever claim the #1 ranking in the world and being the fifth youngest female to ever hold the #1 spot.

The endorsements of Maria are amazing. She was listed in 2005 as the highest-paid female-athlete in the world. The majority of her income is however earned not from tennis, but from endorsements and sponsorship.

Sharapova is also well-known for her love to children. She once said: "You know, one of the greatest things about being an athlete and, you know, making money is realizing that you can help, you know, help the world, and especially children, who I absolutely love working with."

This amazing athlete is also a model. She poses for magazine covers and has earned many compliments for her looks. She was even named the hottest athlete in world. Which is undoubtedly true.

Though Maria Sharapova is famous all over the world, she's surely not one of those spoilt stars. She's an amazing athlete, who earns a lot of money and instead of saving she uses them for charity and various projects to help people. The story of devotion and success should be an inspiration for all young people to achieve as much as possible in their works. The example of Maria Sharapova is surely the best you can find.