London: Petra Kvitova stunned favourite Maria Sharapova to win her first Grand Slam title with a 6-3, 6-4 victory in the women's singles final at Wimbledon on Saturday. (In Pics)
The 21-year-old eighth seed became only the third Czech woman to triumph at Wimbledon after nine-time champion Martina Navratilova and Jana Novotna, who were both in Centre Court's royal box to witness the victory.
Kvitova, who had never appeared in a Grand Slam final before, collapsed to the turf in delight after clinching the title in the 10th game of the second set with her first ace of the match.
"It's hard to find some words, to see the great players in the royal box," said Kvitova, the first left-hander since Navratilova in 1990 to win the title.
"It's very nice when they're watching me all the time and supporting me, it's great."
But it was a desperately disappointing outcome for Russian fifth seed Sharapova, the 2004 champion who had been heavily favoured to win her fourth Grand Slam crown.
"It's great to be back at this stage and holding the runner-up plate - but I wanted the big one today," said Sharapova. "But it's something I want to be back for and holding again one day."
Sharapova ultimately paid the price for a faltering service game which Kvitova was able to break regularly throughout.
A nervous start saw Kvitova and Sharapova both suffer breaks of serve in the opening two games before the match settled into its rhythm.
Kvitova fought off a Sharapova break point in the third game before holding to take a 2-1 lead.
The decisive break came in the sixth game when Sharapova's serve - which had looked shaky during her semi-final win over Sabine Lisicki - let the Russian down again.
A double-fault gifted Kvitova a break for a 4-2, which swiftly became 5-2.
Sharapova's problems on serve continued in the next game, where she was forced to save a set point in the face of some relentless groundstrokes from Kvitova before holding for 5-3.
Kvitova was not to be denied in the next game however, the Czech's left-handed spin on serve causing all sorts of problems for Sharapova as she successfully held to take the set.
Another poor service game from Sharapova saw her double-fault at 30-40 down to gift Kvitova her third break of the match.
But Sharapova was able to carve out a break to level at 2-2, when Kvitova failed to put away a routine smash which allowed the Russian to lob.
The problems which had dogged Sharapova's serve resurfaced in the next game however, and the former world number one was soon break point down.
Sharapova saved that one but Kvitova made no mistake to convert her second, bludgeoning an unstoppable forehand return past her opponent for a 3-2 lead.
Sharapova again conjured up a break to bounce back to 3-3 but her failure to address the vulnerability of her own serve proved costly once more as she was broken for the third time in the second set to trail 3-4.
Kvitova duly held for the remainder of the set to seal a deserved win.
Petra Kvitova's path to the Wimbledon women's title (x denotes seeding):
Petra Kvitova (CZE x8)
1st rd: bt Alexa Glatch (USA) 6-2, 6-2
2nd rd: bt Anne Keothavong (GBR) 6-2, 6-1
3rd rd: bt Roberta Vinci (ITA x29) 6-3, 6-3
4th rd: bt Yanina Wickmayer (BEL x19) 6-0, 6-2
QF: bt Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL x32) 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2
SF: bt Victoria Azarenka (BLR x4) 6-1, 3-6, 6-2
F: bt Maria Sharapova (RUS x5) 6-3, 6-4