Elin Nordegren

It speaks volumes about Elin Nordegren that when she began dating billionaire sports star Tiger Woods, many people thought he was the lucky one.

A striking blonde, blessed with brains and cornflower blue eyes, she met him through one of those meetings that really proves your fate can change on the turn of a dime.

Elin, then a university student, was working in a Stockholm clothing store called Champagne when she came across Mia Parnevik, wife of Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik, who offered her a job as nanny to their four children.

She moved to the US with her employers and followed them on the international golf circuit, catching the eye of the world number one at the 2001 British Open. But Tiger didn't get the introduction he craved until a year later.

"There was a big line of single golfers wanting to meet her. They were gaga over her," Mia told a reporter.

One of the reasons Elin's head wasn't turned by the multi-million dollar world of sport was that she hails from a high achieving Swedish family.

Her mother, Barbro Holmberg is a senior politician, while her father, Thomas Nordegren is a radio journalist who served as a bureau chief in Washington D.C

She grew up with an older brother, Axel, and a twin sister, born ten minutes later than her, Josefin, who is now a lawyer with an international firm.

The two girls financed their studies - Elin was studying child psychology at Lund Univerity - through modelling jobs, and one of her pictures made it into Sports Illustrated.

Tiger didn't become the richest man in sport by becoming easily disheartened and he eventually won her over. Following a two-year courtship, the golf ace proposed at the luxury Shamwari Game Reserve in South Africa.

They married in a glamorous sunset ceremony in Barbados, costing an estimate $1.5 million, and took their vows under a white pagoda, decorated with 500 air-freighted roses. Michael Jordan, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates were among those wishing them happiness.

"I love the idea of growing old together," said the handsome golfer. "It's great when you see people who've been married for 20, 30, 40 years, and they're still in love. That's what I want for us."

Their charmed life seemed complete when two children arrived – daughter Sam Alexis June 18, 2007 and son Charlie Axel, on February 8, 2009.

Her world came crashing down, however, when in November that year, allegations surfaced of his serial infidelities. He announced a break from the game in order to get his personal life in order.

Despite her husband's contrition and her best efforts to work through their difficulties, the couple divorced on August 23, 2010, with the former nanny securing a settlement estimated to be in the region of $64 million.

A joint statement from the pair gave the world an idea of the mettle of this incredibly private and resilient woman.

"We are sad that our marriage is over and we wish each other the very best for the future," they said.

"While we are no longer married, we are the parents of two wonderful children and their happiness has been, and will always be, of paramount importance to both of us".

Elin legally reverted back to her full maiden name - Elin Maria Pernilla Nordegren - and pledged to concentrate on the psychology classes she had started up at Rollins College in Florida.

Newly single, she told a magazine: "I… feel stronger than I ever have. I have confidence in my beliefs, my decisions and myself".
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