Slava was born in Moscow to parents who provided her with world-class athletic genes. Her dad, Vyacheslav, is a professional coach (running and tennis) and coached her mother, Nurziya, a professional runner who was World Champion in the 100km marathon. Slava’s older brother, Pavel, is a political journalist in Moscow. It was her dad who introduced Slava to the sport of tennis at age 8, and he has continued to work with her, along with other coaches, throughout her career. Although tennis is the sport she’s chosen as a career, Slava loves all kinds of sporting activities and will try anything once!
Slava turned professional in September 2005 and worked her way up the rankings with solid results at ITF tournaments throughout the following year. In 2007, in her first direct acceptance into a WTA event, Slava stunned the field in Bangalore defeating the top 2 seeds on her way to winning her first WTA tournament. That same year, she scored a big win over Top 20 player Ana Ivanovic in Miami and she reached the quarterfinals in doubles at the US Open (with Foretz). In 2008, Slava won the ITF tournament in Monterrey, and qualified into the main draws of 4 WTA tournaments and the US Open. She also won the doubles at the ITF tournament in Ortisei and reached her first WTA doubles final in Cincinnati (with Hsieh). 2009 brought Yaroslava her first WTA doubles title in Pattaya City (with Tanasugarn) and a slew of impressive results in singles. In Grand Slams, she reached the third round at Roland Garros and the US Open (saving 2 match points to defeat 5th seed Jelena Jankovic). And in WTA tournaments, she made it to the semifinals in Bad Gastein and Tashkent, and the quarterfinals in Palermo.
2010 was a break out year for this Kazakhstan star, bringing Slava (as she prefers to be called) her first two Grand Slam titles in doubles at Wimbledon and the US Open (with American Vania King). She also reached the quarterfinals in singles and the finals in mixed doubles at Roland Garros. These stellar showings, along with year-long consistent results including semifinal appearances at WTA tournaments in Pattaya City and Barcelona, allowed her to finish the year ranked 39 in singles and 7 in doubles in the world rankings.
Slava’s momentum was stopped in her first match of 2011, when she tore her left knee meniscus and had to have surgery in Australia. She struggled to come back from the injury and her ranking fell in singles, although she maintained her top 10 ranking in doubles, winning 3 titles and reaching 3 other finals, including the US Open.
But in 2012, Slava is back! After a year of hard work with her team, and solid determination and perseverance, Slava came storming back on the red clay of Roland Garros. After making it through qualifying, she upset the defending champion Na Li in the 4th round to reach the quarterfinals for the 2nd time in her career.
With the post-surgery hard work paying off and momentum back on her side, Slava’s dream of representing Kazakhstan at the Olympics in singles and doubles is now a reality, and 2012 is shaping up to be another great year for her. And one thing is certain: you can be sure she’ll be rocking her Oakley prescription sunglasses in all the big matches around the world!