Roughly 70 photographers crouch shoulder-to-shoulder along the sidelines of Wimbledon's Centre Court, their oversized lenses chronicling the action from first serve to last point.

Yet for the full 1 hour 53 minutes that Lindsay Davenport played Maria Sharapova in Thursday's semifinal, nearly every lens was fixed on 17-year-old Sharapova, as if Davenport's presence here was incidental.

Sharapova won, affirming her status as the sport's hottest new player, and she may indeed represent the game's future. But Davenport, who counts a U.S. Olympic gold medal and three Grand Slam titles among her 38 singles titles, represents a significant part of its past despite the fact that her final appearance at Wimbledon was lightly noted. It was how Davenport preferred it.

"I think that's what's kept me relatively mentally healthy and to enjoy keep coming back," Davenport, 28, said following the 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 loss. "I feel like I've always had the best of both worlds in that regard, where I've been really successful, a Grand Slam champion, and yet I've managed to maintain a huge amount of privacy in my life."

A product of Southern California hard courts, Davenport struggled to adapt to Wimbledon's grass. But she grew to thrive on it, defeating Steffi Graf for the title in 1999 after winning the U.S. Open in 1998.

She added an Australian Open title the next year only to see her career sidelined by injuries. She fought her way back to fitness and returned to the tour, advancing to the U.S. Open semifinals in 2003. She also married last year, so it was almost a given, as a newlywed with hopes of starting a family, that this would be her last year on tour.

True to form, Davenport avoided all fanfare and only acknowledged that she'd be surprised to be back when asked if this would be her last Wimbledon. She laughed awkwardly when asked what she hoped she had brought to the women's game. "I don't worry about any of that stuff," she said. But the record book will note that Davenport is among just seven women in the modern era to have won more than 600 matches while maintaining a .750 winning percentage. The others: Billie Jean King, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Gabriela Sabatini and Graf.