(CNN) -

It is 10 years since Maria Sharapova became the darling of Wimbledon's hallowed Center Court.

Just 17 and with a mere six grand slam appearances to her name, she was a huge underdog against Serena Williams -- then already a formidable force in women's tennis.

But Sharapova did the unthinkable, demolishing the defending champion and delighting the crowd, as the smiling teenager opened up her mobile phone on court to contact her mother.

It was "the jump start of my career, where it all began for me," says the first Russian woman to win Wimbledon.

"To think back that I was holding that trophy as a 17-year-old girl is really special. It really makes me feel really happy inside when I look back on those years," Sharapova told CNN's Open Court ahead of this week's return to London's hallowed grass courts.

"Of course it was a little bit of a blur, so young, I was in this incredible dream, this incredible run to the finals. And then winning it, it takes a while to realize, 'Yes, I've done it, I've accomplished that, I've won Wimbledon.' "

A decade later, the two women are again favorites to win Wimbledon -- even if the grass surface has not always proved a happy stomping ground for Sharapova in the intervening years.

She has reached the final just once since those heady days in 2004 -- losing to Czech surprise package Petra Kvitova in 2011 -- and made a shock second-round exit last year to Portugal's 131st-ranked Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Meanwhile, Williams has won three more championships in London in the past decade.

The dream for many fans is of a repeat Sharapova-Williams final showdown, but last Friday's draw means they could meet in the last eight.

"For both of us 10 years later to still be grinding, and working, and loving what we do -- I think it's really inspiring for a lot of people around the world because we've gone through a lot in those years," says Sharapova, who won her fifth grand slam title at this month's French Open, while Williams exited early.

"We've battled through injuries, through losses, through wins and we're still there."

Baby-faced teen to sports star supreme

Right now, Sharapova's confidence is sky-high -- though it wasn't always the case.

The five-time grand slam winner sacked coach Jimmy Connors last year after just one match together, which she lost.

Her new partnership with Sweden's Sven Groeneveld appears to be working out a lot better; in Paris she regained the title that Williams took from her the previous year.

But it was her first Wimbledon win that really set Sharapova on her way to global superstardom.

Within a week she was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and today banks about $30 million a year, of which barely a fifth comes from on-court prize money thanks to lucrative sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike and Head.

It makes her the world's highest-paid female athlete on Forbes' list.

"No matter how prepared you may be, I actually think it's better not to know what will happen," she says of her Wimbledon win.

"Because everything that comes your way seems so better and so much more when you don't have expectations and you have incredible opportunities,"

"I look back and I go, 'Wow, I was on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a 17-year-old girl.'

"I was not naive but I didn't know how cool these things really were and I think that is why I kept myself really grounded, because I was happy and I smiled and I had a great time doing those other things."

Love match

And with fame, came intense media scrutiny.