WIMBLEDON, Great Britain - At 27 years old, Amra Sadikovic is finally on the main stage. Currently ranked No.148, the Macedonian-born Swiss qualified for her first main draw at a Slam at Wimbledon, and on Tuesday she'll get a chance to walk on Centre Court against an all-time legend in Serena Williams.
So how did Sadikovic react to seeing her name next to Serena's in the draw?
"I was happy because to me it's a dream coming true," Sadikovic told WTA Insider. "You don't get these chances every year to play one of the best players ever, and then on Centre Court, and in Wimbledon. What else? To me I'm going to go out there and fight and enjoy every single moment.
"There were a lot of players that told me, bad luck, tough draw. It is a tough draw, definitely. But I don't look at this negative at all. It's only positive. I can only win. I don't feel pressure."
Sadikovic was nowhere near the All England Club in 2014. In fact, she was nowhere near her professional tennis career. The 27-year-old walked away from her pro career at 25 and was coaching at a tennis club in Basel, Switzerland, when she happened to catch a bit of Wimbledon on the TV during a break between lessons.
On the screen was Eugenie Bouchard, a player Sadikovic had played and beaten before. Bouchard had played her way into the semifinals and eventually the final. It was a wake-up call for Sadikovic.
"I had lessons and I had a break. I saw she was on TV and I was like, 'What? Really? I remember beating her.'
"I worked with kids, adults, good juniors [at the club]. It was so much fun. It's something that I really want to do later on again again. But after a while I started missing competition. When you turn on the TV and you see the players playing the Grand Slams and you've beaten them, that hurts."
Seeing women she competed against gain success on tour, Sadikovic began to consider a comeback. She missed the competition and her normal, daily routine began to grow tiresome.
"After 14 months, the last question I asked myself was are you able to get back - because I didn't practice - body-wise, physical-wise. Then it was Timi (Timea Bacsinszky). She gave me the last kick. She's done unbelievable. Respect for that."
Sadikovic made her return at an ITF 20K in Essen, Germany last year in June. She qualified and made the quarterfinals, losing to compatriot Viktorija Golubic. Flash forward a year and she defeated Golubic in straight sets last week en route to qualifying for Wimbledon.
"I really gave up on pro tennis when I was 25," Sadikovic said. Prior to retiring she reached a career-high ranking of No. 179 in 2012, winning eight ITF titles. "In the end it was because I was on court and I didn't enjoy it anymore. I really asked myself what am I doing here? I don't want to be here.
"It was also connected with money. It was not easy to afford all these things. I had the Swiss Federation supporting me but in the end it was not enough. My parents could not afford all this. The last 3-4 months I didn't enjoy it on court anymore. Once I made the decision I felt relief. I don't regret it. Thank god it was the best decision I ever made."
Sadikovic says she's returned to her "second career" with an entirely new mindset, one that is informed with the perspective she gained after walking away. She suffered from a crisis of confidence in her first career, never fully convinced she was good enough be a Top 100 player. But with the support of her family, that's all changed.
"I have really the best family that I can have. They supported me at every step. Even my sister and her husband they said if you need money we help you out, just go and do your thing. Because I didn't reach my potential. And I knew that.
"People told me you have the game, you can be Top 100 easily, but it was me. I didn't believe. I was not 100% convinced I could make it. Now it's a completely different story."
Reflecting on her journey sees Tuesday's match against Serena as a reward for her faith in herself and brave decision to return to the tour.
"I had problems handling pressure," Sadikovic said, referring to her younger self. "I was afraid, scared -- what happens if I lose? -- instead of just enjoying playing because it's such a privilege.
"Now I'm relaxed really because I know how it is when I worked at a coach. It's a normal life and you have daily routines. But you get tired of it. It made me realize how nice the life of a tennis player really is. Before it was like I had to play. Now I have to be thankful that I can play against Serena, on Centre Court. So I don't feel much pressure anymore."
Quick hits with Amra Sadikovic:
WTA Insider: How do you feel about playing on grass?
Sadikovic: "For me it's special playing on grass courts. Maybe the surface fits my game because I'm playing a man's style game. I like to play slice. To me it's elegant playing on grass. Everything is clean and just nice. It's hard to explain."
WTA Insider: For people who have never seen you play before, what should they expect from you on Tuesday against Serena?
Sadikovic: "Definitely say they are going to see variety. I hope my serve is going to work because that is also a weapon. I'm going to go out there and try to play my game and not focus on who is over there. That's going to be the most important thing to me and then I'll try to make her work as hard as I can."
WTA Insider: You were born in Macedonia. How did your family come to live in Switzerland?
Sadikovic: "I was born in Macedonia but I'm not connected to this country. My parents moved during the war to Switzerland but my relatives are in Bosnia. So I'm more connected to Bosnia than Macedonia."
WTA Insider: How did you pick up tennis?
Sadikovic: "My dad, he used to play basketball. Nobody in my family played tennis. I was watching TV all the time and I just wanted to try it. There was a match between Sampras and Agassi at the US Open and I just wanted to try that. This is how it started, when I was 9.
There was a club close to our house. When I came up with this idea that I wanted to play tennis my parents were happy because they were working a lot. We went to the club, we asked for a practice. I started right away three times a week. A week later I was playing club matches and I won the tournament. It was so cool.
WTA Insider: Did you play any other sports as a kid?
Sadikovic: "I played a lot of soccer with my cousins and basketball with my dad. It was nice but I didn't want to depend on anyone. If I win, I did this. Nobody else. That's why I decided to play tennis."
WTA Insider: You've qualified for your first main draw at a Slam. What's your next goal?
Sadikovic: To crack Top 100 by the end of the year.
All photos courtesy of Getty Images.