She began playing tennis when she was six years old and joined the senior women's circuit at the age of fifteen.
After first cracking the World Top 250 in May 2005, when she was still sixteen, she suffered varied results and stasis in her ranking over the following eighteen months, failing to advance significantly on her early promise until the 2007 season, which saw her leap up from outside the Top 250 to just outside the Top 100. Her career high WTA world ranking to date is #48, achieved on June 23, 2008.
Although she has not yet achieved much main-draw success on the main WTA Tour outside Grand Slams, she has has won one ITF $25,000 title and two $10,000 titles, and has reached the third round at two Grand Slams, one $75,000 ITF semi-final, two $50,000 semi-finals, two $50,000 quarter-finals, three $25,000 finals, and three $25,000 semi-finals.
In June 2003, just two weeks after her fifteenth birthday, the young Russian was wildcarded into the main draw of the first ever ITF tournament she entered, a $10,000 event at Elektrostal, Russia. She won two matches but lost a three-setter in the quarter-finals to Ukrainian Olga Savchuk, 6–3 3–6 0–6.
Another wildcard the following week into the main draw at the $10,000 event at Balashikha, also in Russia, failed to bear fruit; but a couple of months later she entered the qualifying draw for her first $25,000 tournament at Zhukovsky, Russia, and succeeded in qualifying for the main draw with two back-to-back three-set victories, including a win against compatriot Anna Lapushchenkova in the qualifying round, 6–4 6–7 6–3. She was then comfortably beaten in the first round of the main draw, however, taking just three games against her little-known Romanian opponent.
Makarova did not play again for the remainder of the year, and ended it ranked a nominal 9999th on the computer, but returned to action towards the end of March 2004 at a $10,000 event in Cairo, Egypt, where she came through four rounds of qualifying with ease before reaching the second round of the main draw. The following week, in the second successive $10,000 tournament played at the same venue, she was defeated in the fourth and final round of qualifying.
She next entered herself for a $10,000 contest at Antalya, Turkey towards the end of May, and as a direct entrant, still aged fifteen, but now ranked World No. 886, she battled all the way through to the final and won her career first title for the loss of just one set in her second round tie against Margalita Chakhnashvili of Georgia, and having only once previously reached a quarter-final in her short career.
Wildcarded into the main draw of only the second $25,000 event in which she had ever competed at Moscow late that month, world ranked 595th, she lost in the first round to a player from Belarus ranked over 300 places above her, in three close sets, 4–6 6–4 6–7.
But the following week at Balashikha, she managed to come through qualifying for another $25,000 competution, and succeeded in taking her first ever main draw match at this level to reach the second round before losing there to compatriot Elena Vesnina 3–6 5–7.
Back at Moscow in time for the annual Tier I WTA event held there in mid-October, world-ranked 535th, she was awarded a wildcard into the qualifying draw, and proceeded to justify it with successive victories over the first two Top-100-ranked players she had ever played, Ukrainian World No. 93 Tatiana Perebiynis (whom she was leading 2–6 6–4 4–0 before Perebiynis retired) and Polish World No. 83 Marta Domachowska (whom she defeated in two close sets, 7–6 6–4). In the qualifying round, however, she was denied entry to what would have been her first ever WTA main draw by a future Top 5 star, then ranked World No. 88, in the form of her compatriot Anna Chakvetadze.
On the back of this heartening performance, her ranking surged upwards to 412th in time for the next ITF $25,000 draw she entered at Minsk, Belarus at the end of October. She came through qualifying in straight sets, then reached her career-first quarter-finals at $25,000 level or above in the main draw before losing to upcoming Belarussian World No. 318 Ekaterina Dzehalevich, 2–6 1–6.
She did not play again for the rest of the year, but had compiled a win-loss record of 27-7 (including qualifying draws) and brought her ranking up from nowhere to 381st in just nine tournaments entered, two of which she had won.
Starting the new year in February in Great Britain, she entered qualifying for $25,000 tournaments at Sunderland and Redbridge in successive weeks. At Sunderland, she qualified with comfortable wins over Belgian Caroline Maes and British player Melanie South, but then lost a tight three-setter in the first round of the main draw to British World No. 119 Elena Baltacha, 6–3 6–7 3–6. At Redbridge, she again came through qualifying with ease, and proceeded to reach as far as her career-first $25,000 semifinal before losing again to Baltacha, this time by the more decisive scoreline of 4–6 2–6.
Returning to play next at St. Petersburg, Russia in late March, world ranked No. 328, Makarova entered another $25,000 draw, and again came through qualifying, before beating World No. 205 Kathrin Woerle of Germany, emerging fellow-Russian talent Alla Kudryavtseva, and Estonian Margit Ruutel in the main draw to reach her second successive semi-final, in which she lost to her compatriot, World No. 145 Ekaterina Bychkova, 6–7 2–6.
She took another month off from competition before entering qualifying for a $75,000 tournament for the first time in her career at Cagnes-sur-Mer, France at the beginning of May. After slogging out two closely competitive three-set matches in the first two rounds of qualifying, she won her qualifying match with relative ease, 6–2 6–0, then scored back-to-back straight-sets victories against three successive players in the main draw to reach the semi-finals in only her first main draw appearance at $50,000 level or above. Her vanquished opponents included World No. 133 Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus in the main draw second round, whom she drubbed 6–0 6–1, and World No. 104 Julia Schruff of Germany in the quarter-finals, whom she defeated 7–5 6–2. But it was again to be Ekaterina Bychkova, now world-ranked No. 134, who would stop her at the semi-final stage, toughing out a 6–2 5–7 6–1 victory.
Makarova's ranking was thus advanced again to a then career-best World No. 246. Her run of breakthrough successes was not to be sustained over the summer, however, as she lost first in mid-June, in the first round of the $25,000 tournament at Gorizia, Italy to a low-ranked qualifier, in three sets; next in early August, in the first round of her first ever $50,000 tournament (to which she gained direct entry) at Rimini, Italy to Estonian rising-star Kaia Kanepi, 2–6 2-6; again in early September, in the second round of qualifying for the US Open to World No. 122 Shikha Uberoi of India, 5–7 6–3 4-6; and once more in late September, in the first round of qualifying for a Tier IV WTA tournament at Portoroz, Slovenia, to a little-known low-ranked Slovenian player, in three sets.
Returning to Moscow in mid-October for the annual Tier I fixture there world-ranked 256th, she enjoyed her third career victory over a Top-100-ranked player in the first round of qualifying as she defeated Michaela Pastikova of the Czech Republic 6–2 6–1, but then in the second round of the qualifying draw she lost to World No. 58 Iveta Benesova, 1–6 4–6.
Retreating to the ITF circuit the following week, world-ranked 264th, she entered the qualifying draw for a $50,000 tournament for the second time in her career at Saint Raphael, France, and this time succeeded in qualifying, with three-set wins over World No. 273 Margalita Chakhnashvili of Georgia and World No. 215 Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic, before reaching the second round of the main draw, where she was overcome by Virginie Pichet of France, 1–6 2–6.
The last tournament she would play that year would be a $75,000 event held in mid-December at Dubai, where, her ranking having slipped back to 258th, she received a wildcard into the main draw but then lost in the first round to her then lower-ranked compatriot Yaroslava Shvedova 5–7 0–6.
She finished a season marked by ups and downs with her ranking unchanged from before the event at Dubai, but up 123 places for the year, and with a healthy-looking 24-12 win-loss record, although on analysis in the first five months of the year she had won 18 matches for the loss of just four, whereas in the period from June to December inclusive she won only six matches and lost eight.
Returning to action in the qualifying draw for the $75,000 contest at Ortesei, Italy in February, world ranked 270th, Makarova came through all three qualifying rounds in straight sets to reach her third main draw at this level, but could not advance past World No. 112 Eva Birnerova of the Czech Republic in the first round of the main draw, losing to her 2–6 1–6.
The following week, she had to qualify again for the lower-level $25,000 event at Capriolo, Italy, and managed this despite a tough three-set battle against a low-ranked Italian in the first round of the qualifying draw. In the main draw, she defeated World No. 152 Kathrin Woerle of Germany in Round One before losing to a Romanian player ranked just outside the Top 200 in the second round.
Early in March, ranked 285th, she tried her hand at qualifying for the Tier II WTA event at Qatar, but lost in three sets in the first round of the qualifying draw to a lower-ranked German player.
Towards the end of that month, as a direct entrant to a $25,000 ITF tournament at St. Petersburg, Russia, she defeated her compatriot Vesna Manasieva 6–2 7–5 in Round One, and World No. 187 Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic 6–2 6–4 in Round Two, but then lost to Italian Alberta Brianti in the quarter-finals, 3–6 2–6.
By the time that she next competed in mid-April, at a $25,000 contest held in Biarritz, France, her ranking had fallen back to World No. 299. In the second round, she met World No. 132 Tatiana Poutchek of Belarus, and fought out a very even match against her, but ultimately lost 6–7 (5) 6–4 4–6.
At the end of April, entering a $25,000 event at Torrent, Valencia, Spain ranked 295th, she enjoyed her best performance of the year yet in reaching her career-first final at $25,000 level or above with notable wins over World No. 222 Oxana Lyubtsova of the Ukraine in Round Two, 6–1 6–1, and again against Petra Cetkovska (now ranked 181st in the world) in the semi-finals, 7–5 4–6 6–2. But she lost in the final to on-form Italian World No. 168 Romina Oprandi, 1–6 3–6.
Nonetheless, her previous year's performance in reaching the semi-final of a $75,000 tournament at the same time of the year had earned her considerably more ranking points, and she found her ranking slipping back to World No. 312 by the middle of May, a deficit of 66 places on her position twelve months earlier.
For the second successive year, the summer brought her relatively poor results, although she would manage to win a few more matches than she had done the previous year.
She began by losing within the first two main draw rounds of her next three competitions, all of which were at $25,000 level - the first at Monzón, Spain in mid-May (where she lost to American World No. 286 Diana Ospina in three sets, 4–6 6–3 4–6, in Round Two); the second at Gorizia, Italy in mid-June (where she lost to Czech World No. 195 Barbora Strycova, 2–6 2–6, in Round One); and the third at Fontanafredda, Italy at the end of June (where she had to come through qualifying to the main draw, then toughed out a 6–1 6–7 7–6 first round win over Australian World No. 255 Monique Adamczak before losing in the second round to World No. 246 Margalita Chakhnashvili of Georgia for the first time, 3–6 6–0 3–6.
In the latter part of July, she then decided to attempt to qualify for a couple of $50,000 tournaments. First, at Vittel, France, she came through into the main draw despite two very tight three-set matches against lower-ranked opponents, but then lost in two close sets to French World No. 151 Stephanie Cohen-Aloro in the first round of the main draw, 6–7 5–7. The following week, at Petange, Luxembourg, she was defeated in the qualifying round by a lower-ranked German player in three sets, and despite being awarded entry to the main draw as a lucky loser, she immediately lost her first round match to World No. 54 Anastasiya Yakimova of Belarus, 5–7 2–6.
The following week, ranked World No. 286, she enjoyed her first run beyond the second round of any main draw in four months at a $25,000 tournament held in Moscow, winning through to the final for the second time at this level in her career with a succession of straight sets victories over lower-ranked opponents, including her upcoming compatriots Vesna Manasieva in the quarter-finals and Anna Lapushchenkova in the semi-finals. But it was another emerging Russian youngster, Evgeniya Rodina, who would claim the title in the final, defeating her 7–6 (4) 6–3.
In September, awarded direct entry into the $75,000 tournament at Denain, France, she survived a close three-set battle in the first round against a similarly-ranked Spaniard, then put up a strong challenge against Romina Oprandi, now ranked 62nd in the world, in Round Two, but ultimately lost 0–6 6–4 4–6.
At Bordeaux the following week, world-ranked 270th, she found herself having to qualify for entry into her second successive $75,000 draw, but managed it without losing a set, notably defeating compatriot Ekaterina Ivanova in the qualifying round, 6–2 6–3. But in the first round of the main draw she lost in three sets to French World No. 57 Emilie Loit, 6–3 3–6 2–6.
At Nantes in early October, as a direct entrant into a $25,000 event, she reached the semi-finals with wins over French World No. 181 Virginie Pichet (6–2 1–6 6–1), British player Amanda Keen (6–2 6–1) and emerging German talent Sabine Lisicki (6–0 5–7 6–1), but then lost in the semi-finals to a little-known player from Belarus called Iryna Kyryanovich, 4–6 6–7.
Although the ranking points attained at Nantes had improved her ranking to World No. 253, in her next four tournaments she would win only one main-draw match, recording mostly unremarkable losses in the second-round of qualifying for the $50,000 event at Saint Raphael, France in mid-October, in the first round of the main draw of the $25,000 contest at Podolsk, Russia the following week (losing 6–7 6–3 4–6 to her compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova), in the second round of a $25,000 fixture at Minsk, Russia in early November, and in the first round of a $25,000 event at Opole, Poland a week later (losing 6–7 (5) 2–6 to Czech World No. 107 Zuzana Ondraskova).
But in the last week of November, world-ranked 268th, she decided to try to qualify for a $75,000 tournament again at Poitiers, France, and succeeded with wins over Darya Kustova of Belarus (7–6 7–5) and, in the qualifying round, World No. 233 Iryna Kuryanovich, against whom she avenged her recent semi-final defeat by taking her out 6–2 6–3. In the main draw, she advanced to the second round by first beating Croatian World No. 173 Sanja Ancic, but then lost to 72nd-ranked fellow-Russian Ekaterina Bychkova in Round Two, 6–7 1–6.
The following week, at Milan, Italy in early December, world-ranked 251st, she attempted to qualify for a $50,000 tournament main draw, but was defeated in the qualifying round by then lower-ranked Olga Govortsova of Belarus, 3–6 4–6. Although awarded main draw entry as a lucky loser, she immediately lost to Italian World No. 253 Giulia Gabba in three sets.
Makarova did not play again that year, and ended it world-ranked 264th, a marginal slip of 11 places year-on-year. She had clocked up a win-loss record of 41-24 after entering many more tournaments than she had done the previous year. Overall, however, her results had been inconsistent, with a few notable strong runs to the last four of lower-level ITF draws, but a lot of early disappointments, many of her wins confined to qualifying tournaments, and no evident breakthrough in comparison to the previous year.
Makarova began her 2007 season in mid-January with a first-round loss in three sets to a fractionally lower-ranked player from the Czech Republic, Olga Blahotova, in a $25,000 event at Tampa, Florida.
Staying in Florida the following week to play the $25,000 tournament at Fort Walton Beach, she advanced to the quarter-finals after defeating higher-ranked Vilmarie Castellvi of Puerto Rico, 6–4 7–5 in Round Two, but then lost to a lower-ranked qualifier from Slovakia, Jana Juricova, who would go on as far as the final.
In mid-February, world ranked a career-best-equalling No. 241, she entered the qualifying draw for the $75,000 event at Midland, Missouri, and comfortably defeated Australian Lauren Breadmore and American Diana Ospina in straight sets before losing in the qualifying round to resurgent former Top-20 Dutch star Brenda Schultz-McCarthy, 3–6 7–6 6–2.
The following week, she lost in straight sets in the first round of a $50,000 tournament at St. Paul, Minnesota to upcoming American Madison Brengle. And a week later she fell in the first round of qualifying for the Tier III WTA event at Memphis, Toronto to German Angelika Bachmann after a close three-set match, 7–6 (1) 6–7 (8) 4–6.
At Minsk, Belarus in mid-March, she entered a $25,000 event and defeated both Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan and Evgenia Grebenyuk of Russia in straight sets to reach the quarter-finals, where she lost for the second time in three matches to Iryna Kuryanovich, 1–6 5–7.
At Moscow in early April, world-ranked a career-best 238th, she enjoyed arguably her most successful result on the circuit since her $75,000 semi-final performance in 2005 in capturing her career-first title at $25,000 level, with victories over Evgenia Grenbenyuk in the semi-finals, 6–1 6–4, and Evgeniya Rodina in the final, 6–4 6–7 (6) 6–3.
The following week, she made it to the quarter-finals of another $25,000 tournament at Putignano, Italy, where she defeated Nika Ozegovic of Croatia in Round One and Italian Nathalie Vierin in Round Two before ceding a three-set victory to Estonian Maret Ani, 6–4 4–6 2–6.
Then at the end of April, she came through qualifying into the main draw of a $50,000 contest at Torrent, Valencia, Italy, without dropping a set, and reached the quarter-finals of the main draw with wins over Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain, 7–5 6–7 6–3, and World No. 139 Sara Errani of Italy, 7–5 6–4. But she was squarely defeated in the quarter-finals by upcoming Romanian World No. 164 Ioana Raluca Olaru, 2–6 1–6.
The following week, she attempted to qualify for the Tier IV WTA tournament at Estoril, Portugal, and reached the qualifying round after dealing a straight sets defeat to World No. 123 Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic, but then faced Arantxa Parra Santonja for the second successive week in the qualifying round, and this time lost to her 6–7(3) 3–6.
After taking the rest of May off from competition, she next returned to action at a $25,000 tournament in Moscow early in June, and won through to the final, defeating fellow-Russians World No. 235 Ekaterina Afinogenova 2–6 6–4 7–5 in the quarter-finals, and World No. 237 Alisa Kleybanova 7–5 6–4 in the semi-finals, before losing to upcoming Russian youngster Anastasia Pivovarova in the final, 3–6 5–7.
At the end of that same week, Makarova entered the qualifying draw for a Grand Slam for only the second time in her career to date, and for the first time since September 2005. It was to be the qualifying draw for the French Open at Roland Garros; and she knocked out Japan's World No. 145 Erika Takao in the first round of the draw, 6–2 6–2, but was defeated again by Olaru (now world-ranked 122, and well on her way to the Top 100) in the second, 1–6 5–7, so stopping two hurdles short of the main draw.
She jetted off to Zagreb, Croatia in time for the $50,000 tournament taking place simultaneously with the French Open, and, as a direct entrant, reached the semi-finals, defeating Belgian World No. 151 Caroline Maes in the second round after Maes retired 2–3 down in the first set. But Hungarian World No. 157 Kyra Nagy stopped her in the semi-finals, 7–5 6–2.
Makarova proceeded to skip the warm-up tournaments for the grass-court season, but nonetheless decided to enter qualifying for The Championships, Wimbledon at the start of July, where, world-ranked 179 following her recent unprecedented early summer successes, she reached the qualifying round, her best performance yet at a Grand Slam, after defeating World No. 113 Lilia Osterloh in two straight tie-breaks in the second round of qualifying. But then she lost in the qualifying round to Czech World No. 152 Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Although she had managed to travel to Cuneo, Italy in time for a $50,000 tournament held there simultaneously with The Championships, Wimbledon, she lost 4–6 5–7 in the first round against Eva Birnerova of the Czech Republic, in her second successive loss to the Czech player, who was by now ranked World No. 97.
A week later, world-ranked 165th, she entered the qualifying draw for a $100,000 tournament for the first time in her career, at Biella, Italy, but lost in the qualifying round to lower-ranked Australian Christina Wheeler in three sets, despite having earlier enjoyed a notable victory in the first round of the qualifying draw against former Top 100 star Antonella Serra Zanetti, 7–5 7–6.
As July turned to August, she decided to enter the qualifying draws for a succession of higher-level WTA tournaments. At first, this decision did not appear to be working out to her advantage, as she lost in three sets in the first round of qualifying for the Tier I event at San Diego to World No. 124 Czech veteran Hana Sromova, 3–6 7–5 3–6.
But the following week, she did at least manage to qualify for the Tier II tournament at Los Angeles, California, following back-to-back straight-sets wins in the qualifying draw over world No. 106 Akgul Amanmuradova, 7–5 7–6 (8) and American World No. 95 Bethanie Mattek, 6–2 7–5. In the main draw, however, she was foiled at the first step by World No. 13 Elena Dementieva, 3–6 1–6.
Retreating to the $50,000 level the following week, she directly entered the main draw at Bronx, New York, and won through to the quarter-finals with straight sets wins over her compatriot, World No. 97 Ekaterina Bychkova, 6–3 7–6(4), and Ukrainian World No. 178 Mariya Koryttseva, 6–2 6–4. But she was confronted in the quarter-finals by American World No. 122 Ahsha Rolle, to whom she lost 4–6 6–0 5–7.
In September, ranked at a new career-high of World No. 156, she entered her third straight Grand Slam qualifying draw of the year at the 2007 US Open, and surpassed her previous best result set at The Championships, Wimbledon earlier that summer by winning three straight rounds to gain entry into the main draw. Her successively vanquished opponents were British rising star World No. 228 Melanie South, whom she defeated 4–6 6–1 6–4 in the first round, Chinese World No. 255 Sun Shengnan (6–4 7–6(3)), and, in more comprehensive fashion, French World No. 117 Stephanie Foretz (6–2 6–1). She then proceeded to rise to the occasion of her Grand Slam main draw début by serving three-sets defeats to German World No. 124 Julia Schruff in the first round (6–1 0–6 6–2) and 28th seeded Japanese World No. 30 Ai Sugiyama in the second round (6–4 4–6 6–2). But she faced the steepest challenge of her career to date in the third round in the form of a head-to-head with Belgian reigning World No. 1 Justine Henin, and could take home only two games from the second set of their encounter, and none in the first.
Catapulted upwards to World No. 112 on the tail of this breakthrough Grand Slam run, the young Russian found herself gaining direct entry into a $100,000 ITF tournament at Kharkov, Ukraine the following week, but faced Ukrainian World No. 21 Alona Bondarenko in the first round, and lost to her 5–7 3–6.
At the end of the month, she entered qualifying for a Tier II WTA tournament at Luxembourg, and reached the qualifying round with wins over World No. 146 Nika Ozegovic of Croatia (6–2 6–2) and World No. 93 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland (6–1 2–6 6–3). But in the qualifying round she faced Alona's improved sister, World No. 45 Kateryna Bondarenko, and lost to her 4–6 1–6.
In mid-October, world-ranked No. 111, she entered the qualifying draw for the customary annual Tier I event at Moscow, but lost at the first stage to resurgent former Top-ten star Alicia Molik of Australia in three sets, 2–6 6–4 2–6.
A week later, she retreated again to the ITF circuit, and reached the semifinals of the $50,000 event at Saint Raphael, France after dishing out a double bagel to World No. 182 Ekaterina Dzehalevich in Round Two and then prevailing in a close three-set battle against Israeli World No. 88 Tzipora Obziler, 6–4 1–6 6–2, in the quarter-finals. But in the semi-finals she met Stephanie Foretz again, and this time it was the French player who dominated their encounter, winning it 6–1 6–2 in a virtual mirror-image of her previous loss to Makarova.
In the last week of October, as a direct entrant into a $100,000 ITF tournament at Bratislava, Slovak Republic, ranked 110th, she defeated World No. 84 Anne Kremer of Luxembourg in two tie-breaks in the first round, before losing a very close three-setter to American Lilia Osterloh in the second, 6–1 5–7 4–6.
She played only one more tournament that year, a $50,000 ITF fixture at Minsk in mid-November, where, world-ranked at a new personal best of No. 107, she reached only the second round before World No. 188 Ekaterina Dzehalevich avenged her recent double-bagelling at the Russian's hands, upsetting her 2–6 6–3 6–2.
Makarova finished a year of much more progressive attainments world-ranked 110th, a gain of 154 places on her position twelve months previously, and with a 48-26 win-loss record to her credit, having again played a very full season on the circuit.
Makarova began the new year in the southern hemisphere by attempting to qualify for the Tier II event at Sydney, Australia in mid-January. Despite conquering American World No. 69 Laura Granville in the first round of qualifying for the loss of just three games, she could only manage four games herself against resurgent Ukrainian World No. 96 Tatiana Perebiynis in the second round.
Moving on to the Australian Open, where she obtained direct entry to the main draw for the first time in her career at any Grand Slam thanks to her newly elevated world ranking, she scored her career-first win over a current Top 20-ranked player in Round One as she took out World No. 19 Agnes Szavay of Hungary, 3–6 6–4 7–5. Then in the second round she made short work of Austrian World No. 70 Yvonne Meusburger, defeating her 6–3 6–1. But in the third she lost 1–6 6–7(8) to World No. 14 Nadia Petrova.
Nonetheless, in scoring her second successive Grand Slam third round finish, she had succeeded in breaking into the World Top 100 for the first time in her career at No. 80 on February 4th 2008 in the wake of this event.