|Height:||5 ft 7 1/2 in|
|Turned Pro:||September, 2000|
Like many Russians Vera Zvonareva was born into a family of sportsmen. Her mother Natalia Bykova was a hockey player and won a Bronze Medal in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Her father took part in the USSR Championships on bandy.
She had no intention of becoming a professional tennis player, she just played tennis for fun but everyone noticed something special in the 6 year-old girl taken to the Chajka Sports Club by her mother. She started entering tournaments and when she won several, including becoming Russian Champion at the age of 17, she decided to devote her life to sports.
She is full of Russian angst having been plagued with injury throughout her career, When she suffered an unpleasant and painful injury to her ankle-guard at a tournament in Charleston in 2009 she missed the entire clay court season. She tried to return too early, playing at Eastbourne International Championships in great pain.
But she has put her injury breaks to good use. When she suffered a wrist injury in 2007 she enrolled in the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to study International Economic Relations.
A graduate of the Russian State University of Physical Education she wanted to gain knowledge of something not connected with sport, and develop herself beyond the framework of her tennis career.
She found the course interesting but it was difficult to combine playing on the circuit with a student lifestyle. She had to study on the tour and sometimes had to force herself to read the textbooks. Following her connection with the Academy Zvonareva can now participate in some of the projects from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and she has been included in the structure of the Commission of the Russian Federation on UNESCO affairs.
In 2008 She found out about this debilitating disease through a friend whose daughter suffered from it. Zvonareva loves children and she decided to learn more about the disease and see how she could help.
She said. "When I first heard about Rett Syndrome and witnessed the disease first hand I wanted to find out more and discover ways in which I might be able to help to find a cure.
"These young girls and women may be limited physically but they still shine, you can see it in their eyes."
Zvonareva is now working with her sponsors as well as the International Rett Syndrome Foundation and Rett Syndrome Europe to find ways to increase awareness and to raise funds for research. Tennis equipment company GAMMA, whose strings she uses, made her a racket bag with the Rett Syndrome Foundation logo on it and she carries the bag on court with her for all her matches.
Currently there is no cure for Rett Syndrome, the disease which attacks one out of every 1500 girls.