Dec. 4, 2009— -- Elin Nordegren was known as the stunning blonde who fiercely guarded her family's privacy and seemed to prefer her famous husband Tiger Woods' shadow to the public eye.
"Tiger Woods is the visible part of this relationship. She's behind the scenes on greens," Jason Sobel, who covers golf for ESPN.com, said, adding that she has done no interviews since marrying Woods in 2004.
Nordegren, who turns 30 on New Year's Day, is 10 minutes older than her twin sister, Josephine. Her well-known family lived in a small coastal town outside Stockholm.
"Elin comes from an educated family," Sobel said. "Her father is a journalist in D.C., her mother is a former politician in Sweden. They divorced many years ago."
The former swimsuit model never wanted a flashy celebrity life, according to a photographer who worked with Nordegren during her brief modeling career. Instead, she left the fashion world to study child psychology.
But then a chance encounter led to a job as an au pair to a Swedish golfer, Jesper Parnevik. In 2001, Parnevik introduced her to Woods.
Nordegren reportedly said "no" when Woods first asked her out.
"When she first moved to states, she made fun of golfers [and their] funny clothes," Sobel said.
Elin Nordegren: The Woman Behind Tiger Woods
Photographer Bingo Rimer told Sports Illustrated in 2004 that "she didn't want to be just a celebrity girlfriend. ... She didn't want to be seen just as a decoration on Tiger's arm."
But Tiger continued to pursue her, reportedly paging her six times a day. Once he won Nordegen over, he proposed to her on an African safari. The two married Oct. 5, 2004, in a lavish, star-studded $2 million wedding in Barbados.
"I have found a life partner, a best friend," Woods told "60 Minutes" in 2006. "You know, Elin's been incredible for me. She's brought joy and balance in my life. We love doing the same things. You think I'm competitive? She's way more competitive than me."
Woods takes her to the driving range, Nordegren teaches him to ski.
The two have a lot in common, such as their love for dogs. Nordegren even gave Woods his beloved dog as a present.
"If you had to pick from a million women, Elin may be the absolute perfect wife for a superstar athlete," Sobel said. "She's tall, blond and ... all these things attracted Tiger."
Woods told People magazine in 2005, "We're really mellow. Because I travel so much, I value being at home with Elin. I'm probably happiest during those times."
"I love the idea of growing together. I want to have a relationship where we change for the better and continue to get closer."
Parnevik's wife, Mia, who helped introduce the couple and is reportedly still a good friend of Elin's, told Sports Illustrated in 2004 that although people might believe this was a Cinderella story for Elin, it was actually the other way around.
"But Tiger is the one who got the catch," Mia told the magazine. "He's lucky he found Elin."