Maria Sharapova is relishing the task of living up to high expectations as she prepares to defend her Wimbledon title.
Sharapova's shock victory last year made her the lowest-seeded player and second youngest winner of the women's singles in the Open era, at only 17 years of age.
The 13th seed beat former champion Lindsay Davenport in the semi- finals and thrashed two-time defending champion and top seed Serena Williams 6-1, 6-4.
Sharapova won the seasonending tour championships --again beating Williams in the final - and is a career-high second in the world.
The 18-year-old is such a star that she employs five bodyguards at all times but is happy to come into the event as one of the favourites and the major focus of the world's press for the next fortnight.
The Russian said: "It's going to be a lot harder to defend than winning the title the first time, I've heard that many times.
"Last year I was 17 years old and who expected me to win? This year I'm 18, I've had so much more experience behind me and I love the surface.
"Obviously there are going to be more expectations but that's absolutely normal for a player that's No 2 in the world.
"I'd rather be No 2 in the world than No 30 and have no expectations. You want to be a champion, you are always going to be expected to win, that's normal."
Sharapova made light of media reports of a supposed stalker and believes she has achieved the right balance between her life on and off the court.
She said: "I have five bodyguards walking around with me all the time, I feel secure. I'm always surrounded by people and always feel safe.
"If I was worried every step I was taking I don't think I would be walking around.
"I've been enjoying everything I've been doing and kept a really good balance between my tennis and other things that I do. Everything I do off the court I enjoy, otherwise I wouldn't do it.
"Whenever I do something else, even if I need to rest, I always miss going back on the court and the competitiveness out there. While I still have that feeling inside of me then I know I'm on the right track."
Sharapova is not in action until tomorrow as she is in the bottom half of the draw, as the No 2 seed behind world No 1 Lindsay Davenport.
Her opening few matches appear relatively straightforward and she cannot face the likes of French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, Serena and Venus Williams and Mary Pierce until at least the semi-finals.
"There's no player in particular who is the biggest threat," added Sharapova, who faces Spain's Nuria Llagostera Vives in the opening round.
"I think the level of women's tennis is quite high right now. "A player from the top ten or 20 can be dangerous. You don't see players winning matches 6-1, 6-2 in the first week of a grand slam all the time.
"A lot of the matches are tough and you might have to play three sets. But I'm just going to go out and enjoy myself, not worry about anything else that's going on and just have fun and take it all in. Every time I step on grass I feel confident because I feel it really suits my game."