Sharapova spurred by Wimbledon anniversary
London: Maria Sharapova says the 10th anniversary of her famous Wimbledon final triumph against Serena Williams has given her an added incentive to finally regain the title this year.
Sharapova was aged just 17 when she sprang one of the great Wimbledon shocks to become the third youngest women`s champion after Lottie Dod and Martina Hingis.
If she was a virtual unknown in 2004, the Russian is now the world`s most widely-recognised and richest sportswoman, with her net worth said to be $150 million and her annual earnings around $27 million.
Sharapova, 27, has remained a dominant power on the court as well, completing her career Grand Slam of all four major titles by winning the French Open in 2012 and then returning to triumph again in Paris last month.
The prospect of marking the anniversary of her first Grand Slam title with more glory on the lush lawns of south-west London is exactly the motivation Sharapova needs as the ferocious competitor searches for her next challenge following victory at Roland Garros.
"Once I think about it actually, the memory is quite fresh in my mind. I don`t think about that victory very often. Just sometimes when I need a little pick me up or when I look back at my achievements," Sharapova told reporters at Wimbledon on Saturday.
"When I do think about it, it seems so fresh and it seems like it almost happened yesterday. It`s been 10 years and I`m here, yeah, still competing at a high level and still have the motivation.
"I certainly had that drive when I was 17 years old, and I`m proud that I still have that going into this age group, you call it. Still going out and competing and loving what I do so much."
Asked if she could ever have imagined her career following such a successful path on the day she won at Wimbledon, Sharapova added: "When you win such a major at 17 years old, you have no choice but to try to back that up with another victory, or else you`re going to be carrying those expectations from yourself and also from the outside world.
"Winning another one, it wasn`t just a one-time success. I think I was ultimately more proud as a teenager to back that up with a win in New York on one of the biggest stages under a lot of pressure.
"That was a big moment through those years. To add three more to that, yeah, I`m very grateful for that."
Sharapova is seeded to face her old rival Serena in the quarter-finals this year and, while that would bring back some happy memories for the Russian, it could also give her some sleepless nights, given she has lost their last 15 meetings dating back to 2004.
For now, world number five Sharapova, who faces British wild card Samantha Murray in the first round, is just focused on advancing through the first week of the tournament.
"I don`t like to come into this tournament thinking, `I just won a Grand Slam`. I like to challenge myself and be hungry," she added.
"Always when I think about winning so many matches or having a great season, I don`t know, I get a little bored in my mind. I want to challenge myself when I go out on the court.
"I don`t want to think about what happened two weeks ago. I want to start from scratch."