Aug. 25, 2010— -- Elin Nordegren said she wanted to save her marriage to Tiger Woods even after she was "blindsided" by his multiple affairs, but in the end the damage was irreparable and she didn't trust him.
Nordegren revealed that she had no clue about her golfing superstar husband's infidelities, saying she was "blindsided" and "embarrassed" by the affairs.
At a press conference today preceding a golf tournament in New Jersey, Woods called the divorce a "sad time."
"You know, it's a sad time in our lives," he said. "And we're looking forward in our lives and how we can help our kids the best way we possibly can. And that's the important thing."
"I never suspected, not a one," she said in the exclusive interview. "For the last three-and-a-half years, when all this was going on, I was home a lot more with pregnancies, then the children and my school."
And even though she tried to shield her two young children as much as possible, daughter Sam, 3, picked up on her grief, asking, "Mommy, where is your boo-boo?"
While she has withheld some details, Nordegren, 30, said she is speaking out now because she wants to set the record straight and also sees opening up as a step toward healing. But she told People she had no intention of addressing the matters again, saying she hoped she and her children could get the privacy they needed to adjust to their new lives.
Despite everything Nordegren said she has no regrets and is gracious toward her ex.
"I wish him all the best in the future, as a person and as an athlete," she said. "I know he is going to go down as the best golfer that ever lived, and rightfully so. I feel privileged to have witnessed a part of his golfing career."
Woods said the divorce had weighed on him this summer, affecting his game and calling it "a lot more difficult than I was letting on."
"Concentration on the golf course," he said, "at times it was difficult."
Woods may have stated the obvious when he said it was not his return to golf that led to divorce.
"Me coming back and playing golf had nothing to do with our deciding to move our separate ways."
When asked if he was relieved to be divorced, Woods said he was more sad than relieved.
"More sadness you don't ever go into a marriage looking to get divorced."
Nordegren's interview with People was conducted in four parts totaling 19 hours, with the Swedish-born Nordegren writing down some of her answers to make sure her English was accurately describing her feelings.
"She's still in a bad place, but getting better," People Magazine Deputy Managing Editor Peter Castro told "Good Morning America." "This is a woman with incredible grace and poise and really a model for how you should repair your life."
In the days that followed, there were reports of an alleged relationship between Woods, 34, and a New York City nightclub hostess. Before long, several other allegations were made about even more women.
And there was the now infamous voicemail, purportedly left by Woods for cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs.
In the message, a panicked voice identified as Woods by US Weekly apparently begs Grubbs to change her voicemail greeting. The voicemail is from Nov. 24, the day before reports of his alleged affairs surfaced, according to US Weekly.
"Hey it's Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor," the caller says in the message. "Can you please, uh, take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you. If you can, please take your name off that and, um, what do you call it, just have it as a number on the voice mail. Just have it as your telephone number. You have to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye."
Couple Tried 'Really Hard' to Save Marriage
In the end, Woods was rumored to have been involved with more than a dozen women, including a porn star.
He eventually admitted he cheated. In an effort to save his marriage, he took time off from golf and sought treatment in a private clinic.
As all this unfolded, Nordegren said she experienced "absolute shock and disbelief."
"I felt stupid as more things were revealed -- how could I not have known anything? The word 'betrayal' isn't strong enough. I felt embarrassed for having been so deceived. I felt betrayed by many people around me," she said.
Even so, she wanted the marriage to work.
"Initially, I thought we had a chance, and we tried really hard," she said.
And although she wanted her children to have a family, she decided that it was better to split up.
"I am now going to do my very best to show them that alone and happy is better than being in a relationship where there is no trust," she said.
But Castro noted that both Nordegren and Woods seem to have worked out a good plan for co-parenting the kids. While the People reporter was with Nordegren at the house, Woods showed up unexpectedly to drop the children off. Nordegren, Castro said, took time to remind the kids to kiss their father good bye.
"It was a very, very pleasant scene and that was one of the surprising things," he said. "It shows very clearly there really is no animosity. Elin is moving on."
An intensely private woman, Nordegren maintained her silence even as she became the focus of the paparazzi and her marriage turned into fodder for the tabloid and mainstream media.
She described the past nine months as an "emotional roller coaster."
She lost sleep, weight, and even some of her hair. In an effort to avoid the constant coverage of her marriage, she watched virtually no television. But said she found the parodies of herself on Saturday Night Live and South Park "pretty hysterical," even if "totally untrue."
Also untrue, she said, was the suggestion that she attacked Woods on the night of the accident.
"There was never any violence inside or outside our home," she said. "The speculation that I would have used a golf club to hit him is just truly ridiculous. Tiger left the house that night, and after a while when he didn't return, I got worried and decided to look for him. That's when I found him in the car. I did everything I could to get him out of the locked car. To think anything else is absolutely wrong."
She and Woods will share custody of their children, Sam and Charlie, 1. The terms of a monetary settlement were undisclosed, but Nordegren will be wealthy.
'Money Can't Buy Happiness,' Woods Ex-Wife Tells People Magazine
While she admits the money will make things easier, she told People: "Money can't buy happiness. Or put my family back together."
Her 2004 marriage to Woods was one of the happiest days of her life, she said.
The two met on the PGA tour when she was working as a nanny for Swedish golfer Jesper Parnevik's children.
She initially was wary of becoming involved with Woods.
"I had my opinion about celebrities," she said.
But she found out that they had a lot in common, and they dated. When he proposed, all her reservations about marriage vanished in that instant.
"I loved him, we had so much fun and I felt safe with him," she said.
Her healing has involved intensive therapy, and the help and support of family and friends. She kept a journal to document her feelings and to her release anger and frustration.
But she credited her children with being the reason she made it through the disintegration of her marriage.
She recalls sitting at a table in the home she had rented after she moved out. It was around Christmas, and she was surrounded by boxes on the floor.
"I wasn't crying, but I was thinking and was sad.
Sam came up to her and rested a hand on her mother's cheek. In Swedish, the little girl asked: "Mommy, where is your boo-boo?
"I smiled at her and said, 'Mommy's boo-boo is in her heart right now, but it will be better,'" Nordegren said. "She looked at me and said: 'Can Sam kiss it and make it better? Or maybe popcorn will.'"
A psychology student, Nordegren said she went through the classic stages of grief.
The final stage is forgiveness. She can't forgive her ex-husband just yet, but says she's working on it.
"I know I will have to come to forgiveness and acceptance of what has happened for me to go on and be happy in the future," she said. "And I know I will get there eventually."
Nordegren is excited about her future, and also expects to date again, but not for a long while.
"I believe in love because I've seen it," she said. "I've been there."