Maria Sharapova came to the US with $700—here's what she bought with her first big paycheck

Here's what Maria Sharapova learned from growing up poor

Before Maria Sharapova started earning millions, she and her family had little to nothing: When she and her dad moved from Russia to the U.S. to develop her tennis, they arrived with just $700.

While the rising star trained all day at Nick Bollettieri's tennis academy, her dad worked multiple low-wage jobs to cover rent, necessities and tennis lessons. They shared a pull-out couch in a small $250-a-month apartment and she wore hand-me-down tennis clothes from other girls at the academy.

A decade after moving to the States, at age 17, Sharapova won Wimbledon. The win came with a check for £560,500, the most money the teenager had ever seen.

Maria Sharapova won her first Grand Slam at age 17
Jeff Overs | Getty Images

Having grown up in an environment where "wealth was shown with labels and logos," she tells CNBC Make It, she headed straight to T.J. Maxx and splurged on a bright-colored Louis Vuitton bag. "I wore it, I don't know, three times, and then I realized how silly that looked," the 31-year-old athlete says.

It was the first time she realized that while money "allows you to buy more materialistic products … all of those things are very temporary."

Ultimately, "money is not the pinpoint of happiness," says Sharapova, who is through to the round of 32 at the 2018 U.S. Open, meaning she's already earned $156,000 for the tournament. "And I think growing up in that environment — growing up working for every single dollar, in a sense, that I've earned today — makes you realize that."

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