LONDON - It's hard to believe Roger Federer, wrestling with self-doubts and burdened by expectations, once wondered if he'd ever make the world's top 100.
Nothing like the unflappable force he is today, Federer the prodigiously gifted junior also battled a volatile temper that threatened to bring the teenager undone before his professional career even began.
Little more than a decade on and the elegant Federer, the most successful player in tennis history, is now being lauded as one of sport's all-time greatest athletes.
He is the Pele of the court, a global superstar earning an estimated $50 million a year from prizemoney and sponsorships with Nike, Rolex, Wilson and Credit Suisse.
With 17 grand slam singles titles, six season-ending championship trophies and 286 weeks atop the rankings, his mind-boggling numbers can't be matched.
"I never thought I'd be that good. I really never thought that," Federer confessed this week as he savoured a record-equalling seventh Wimbledon triumph and his remarkable return to world No.1
"When I won in 2003, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I was going to win Wimbledon and have my kids seeing me lift the trophy.
"I was considered a big talent. I was considered good in Switzerland first and then at 16, 17 internationally I was making a few dents so I thought 'ooh, maybe something is possible here, maybe I can make the top 100'.
"But I was never like 'I'm going to be world No.1'. That was more like a fantasy, a dream, an idea like that."
A Wimbledon junior champion, Federer entered the pro ranks alongside Lleyton Hewitt and even debuted in the doubles with the South Australian at the All England Club in 1999.
But while Hewitt rapidly climbed the rankings to become the youngest-ever year-end world No.1 at 20, Federer took longer to flourish.
"We had an extremely strong generation of players when I was coming along with Hewitt and Safin and Roddick and Ferrero and Tommy Haas," Federer said.