Samantha Murray hopes lessons learnt from her Wimbledon showdown with Maria Sharapova can pave the way for a transition from super fan to solid pro.
The 26-year-old was left to rue three missed break-point chances in the first set against former champion Sharapova, who found her poise to triumph 6-1 6-0.
Murray conceded 242 world ranking berths to 2004 Wimbledon winner Sharapova, who arrived in SW19 clutching the Roland Garros trophy.
Despite some fulsome ground-strokes, Murray admitted she was never really within Sharapova’s touching distance - but remained proud to be on court rather than in the stands.
Now Murray will target scaling the women’s rankings, to trade her wild card for direct Wimbledon entry.
“Absolutely this whets the appetite, everybody wants to play the better tournaments and climb the rankings,” said Murray, who turned professional less than four years ago.
“I’m going to have to go back to playing lower tournaments to try to build my ranking, to get back here in my own right.
“It was a great experience, I’ve only been on the court before as a fan, so it was nice to get out there.
“I’ve been here so many years and watched all the top players play, I’m a big tennis fan.”
Murray worked as a tennis coach while attending Northwestern University in Illinois, before launching her professional career.
Lamenting her inability to convert early chances, Murray still admitted to viewing the experience as a confidence-booster.
“It was a great opportunity to play someone of her level, she’s by far the highest-ranked player I’ve faced,” Murray said.
“It was great to experience playing someone of her standard, who really comes at you, just to see how I deal with it.
“I had a few break points but just couldn’t quite convert them.
“I tried to play my game and be aggressive, I think I managed to do that but just didn’t execute well enough.
“There were definitely some points where I troubled her, I think my game can match up against the best players - I just need to get better at executing.”
Sharapova slipped out of Wimbledon in the second round last summer, losing out to Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito.
A decade on from her first grand slam victory as a callow teenager, the 27-year-old believes little has changed in her life or approach.
“Reflecting on that victory brings a lot of great memories,” said the five-time grand slam-winner.
“I’ve had my fair share of success but also some tough results here.
“It really jump-started my career from a very young age, but I don’t look back to that very often, because I treat every year and every tournament as a fresh and new start.
“Not many things have changed actually.
“The mentality changes a little bit.
“As a 17-year-old girl, you’ve never really been to the locker room, or you haven’t played on certain courts.
“Every minute of it is so different out there.
“Now you know your way around, you know every corner by now.”