developed a talent for tennis since she was 4, when she started hitting tennis balls. She participated in a exhibition in Moscow that featured Russia tennis star, Martina Navratilova
, during her young years. Navratilova urged her parents to go get Maria some professional training in the United States. Maria and her father, Yuri, immigrated to the U.S. when she was 7. Her mother, Yelena, didn’t come for two years due to visa restrictions and finances. At age 9, she began her training at Nick Bollettieri's Tennis Academy in Florida. Coach Nick Bollettieri realized she has talents when she kept hitting thousands of tennis balls in the basket each day. She grew up tall, beautiful, and talented. Maria got her education through the internet in the Keystone High School Home Schooling program. She also went into modeling during her free time, but prefers to spend more time on tennis and not let modeling get into her way. The world spotted her in 2004 when she defeated top rank, Serena Williams, in the Wimbledon finals in straight sets, 6-1 6-4. She became the first Russian to ever win the tournament and the second youngest women (17 years old) to ever win the title. On August 8th, 2005, she achieved her first #1 ranking in women’s singles and is the first Russian player to ever accomplish that ranking.