Maria Sharapova, Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Development Program, is launching a $210,000 scholarship program for students from Chernobyl-affected areas of Belarus.
The scholarships will be granted to 12 talented young people from Chernobyl-affected regions and enable them to study at one of two leading universities in Belarus.
The program is a joint initiative of the Maria Sharapova Foundation and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).
"It has always been my dream to contribute to the recovery of a region where I have a personal connection," said the Russian. "Enabling talented young people to pursue higher education is part of a broader effort to build a brighter future for the region."
The three-time Grand Slam champion was born in Siberia a year after her parents were forced to leave the city of Gomel in Belarus because of the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe.