Ivana Trump's Transformation Is Turning Heads

From being a socialite to a businesswoman, Ivana Trump is a star in her own right. While she is most well-known for being one of Donald Trump's ex-wives, she is so much more than your typical divorcee. Unlike her children, Ivana was not born with a silver spoon. She grew up in Gottwaldov, Czechoslovakia, which is now known as the Czech Republic (via Newsweek). Living under Soviet control, she and her family had the bare necessities to survive, without a glimmer of luxury.

Ivana always had hope for a better life and didn't see a future in her hometown. "Ivana didn't want to stay here," her mother, Marie Zelnickova, told the outlet. "She was always ambitious, and her father treated her like a boy." Despite her shortcomings, Ivana managed to become a very talented skier, which allowed her to travel and escape from Soviet reign. She ended up marrying an Austrian skier, Alfred Winklmayr, but the two split up shortly after (via CNN). Luckily for Ivana, she was able to obtain an Austrian passport and make her way to Canada in 1972 and then New York in 1976, where her journey with Donald Trump began. Keep scrolling for more details about Ivana's rags-to-riches fairy tale.

Donald Trump swept Ivana off her feet

Ivana Trump met her future ex-husband during a night out with friends, when he spotted her across a crowded restaurant. "[There's] this tall blond guy with blue eyes," Ivana told the New York Post. "He said, 'I'm Donald Trump and I see you're looking for a table. I can help you.' I look at my friends and said, 'The good news is, we're going to get a table real fast. The bad news is, this guy is going to be sitting with us,'" Despite her initial impression of the businessman, they ended up dating and got married less than a year later.

While Ivana didn't have to work thanks to her husband's income, she wasn't the type to be a stay-at-home mom. In addition to raising three kids, she was also vice president of interior design for Trump properties and later became president of Trump's Castle casino resort and the Plaza Hotel. Although their marriage didn't last, she was grateful for the doors Trump opened for her. "He gave me the chance," she said. "I came [to America] and I was a poor person. I had a sense of style so he put me in charge of interior design of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. I was seven months pregnant and going up the steps, making sure everything was on the schedule." The couple divorced in 1990 after 13 years together, and Ivana cashed out with a multimillion-dollar settlement, per The New York Times.

Ivana Trump took New York City by storm

Following Ivana and Donald Trump's split, you could say the newly single gal became the first real housewife of New York, long before the Bravo show. She graced the cover of Vogue and had designers begging her to wear their clothes. She was the official "It" girl of the moment, but she went on to prove that she was more than a pretty face — starting several businesses and writing a few books. "It's a European tradition. We always look up to the man. But this is old times," she told the Los Angeles Times in 1992. "Now what I believe is that I'm definitely equal. I'm not going to let man domineer me, and if any man is around like that, I don't stay around. Who needs it?"

Although Ivana has made it clear she doesn't need a man by her side, she definitely enjoys the company. After being married four times, she knows exactly what she wants in a relationship. "If you are a married woman, you usually follow what the man wants to do. I can do whatever what I want," she told the New York Post. "I'm not getting married again. But I like companions. The most important for me is honesty, good humor — not necessarily a millionaire. I don't need [money]."

Being a mother is Ivana Trump's greatest joy

While Ivana Trump has proven her worth when it comes to business, her hardest job and greatest pleasure was being a mother to her three childrenDonald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. "I believe the credit for raising such great kids belongs to me," Ivana wrote in her memoir, Raising Trump (via Time). "I was in charge of raising our children before our divorce, and I had sole custody of them after the split. I made the decisions about their education, activities, travel, child care, and allowances. When each one finished college, I said to my ex-husband, 'Here is the finished product. Now it's your turn.'"

Although Ivana and Donald Trump weren't the best co-parents, they are in a good place today. In fact, the president took a couple of her tips, including an ample Twitter presence. "I said, 'I think you should tweet,'" she told CBS of her advice to her ex in 2017 (via The Hollywood Reporter). "It's a new way, a new technology. And if you want to get your words across rightly ... this is how you get your message out." Clearly, Ivana is a force to be reckoned with years after her humble beginning.