Sharapova donates to eight Chernobyl projects

Updated: February 14, 2007, 5:17 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Maria Sharapova, who was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Programs, donated $100,000 to eight Chernobyl recovery projects.

The top-ranked tennis player, originally from Siberia, now lives in Bradenton, Fla.

"My first step is to focus on the Chernobyl-affected region, where my family has roots," Sharapova said Wednesday during a ceremony at the United Nations. "Today, it is poverty and lack of opportunities that pose the greatest threat for young people in the Chernobyl region."

Her new role includes rallying support for the global campaign against poverty.

"UNDP's efforts in the fight against poverty are crucial for young people everywhere to achieve their potential," she said.

The 19-year-old Sharapova, who won the 2004 Wimbledon and 2006 U.S. Open titles, has earned over $9 million in her six-year career.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press