Petra Kvitova stuns Maria Sharapova in straight sets to win Wimbledon title
• Eighth seed powers to 6-3, 6-4 victory over former champion
• Czech pounces on weak service game to win first grand slam
Petra Kvitova found the near-perfect mix of power, spin and patience to blow Maria Sharapova off Centre Court in a curiously uneven Wimbledon final and announce what might be a new age in women's tennis.
The Czech, seeded eighth, varied her shot-making and her serve according to circumstance and saved her single ace for the final, echoing shot after an hour and 25 minutes to win 6-3, 6-4.
Kvitova is the first left-hander to win the title since her Czech compatriot Martina Navratilova 21 years ago (just a few months after Kvitova was born), and brings a similar muscular artistry to her tennis.
She is not an elegant player, but she hits with purpose and this might not be the last time she raises the Venus Rosenwater plate above her head. She will return as a champion to fear.
Sharapova fought, as she does, but to little avail against a tide of measured ground strokes, delicately placed to tease, and a serve unlike others she has had to deal with the past fortnight.
The beauty of Sharapova goes beyond her long legs and blonde hair. Her tennis is engaged with a silken movement that leads to precision across the disciplines but, when it mattered most, those connected elements deserted her for the second time in three days and the title was gone before the sweat had left her lovely brow.
She served 13 double faults and hit 18 unforced errors in just 19 games getting past the booming serve of the German Sabine Lisicki in the semi-finals on Thursday. On Saturdayshe cut the free points on her serve to six, with 12 self-made mistakes – still not good enough.
If two games summed up the state of women's tennis, it might be those that got this final underway. Neither held. Two breaks in the space of a few minutes at the very start of the final of a major was somehow no surprise at all (although it has not happened here since 2006), because that, paradoxically, is the result of improved strength and physicality that has transformed the women's game beyond recognition over the past couple of decades.
After the ragged start, they held a serve apiece to restore equilibrium but there was rarely a sense that the power of the serve – central to the structure of the men's game, less so on what used to be called the distaff side – mattered, apart from its bottom-line efficiency.
Sharapova, though, stuck to orthodoxy. Admirably and foolishly, perhaps, she resisted the temptation to drag back on the power in search of the service box on the other side of a net that at times must have looked like a fishing net.
Kvitova went for guile, on both her wickedly spinning left-handed serve, and a sliced backhand that tormented Sharapova. On top of that arrived occasional belters on both wings.
Two double-faults in a row and Sharapova dropped serve again to go 2-4 down. Certainly, her injuries have blighted her wonderful tennis and it is a monument to her courage that she has put them behind her, but here that nexus between muscle and mind was wretchedly shredded.
Next opportunity she had to serve, she double-faulted again and we knew there would be no graceful exit from her dilemma.
There was nothing she could do to stop Kvitova taking the first set, serving out to love and looking serene in her own way. Sharapova had come through six matches without dropping serve and now was getting hammered by an opponent who knew no fear, a player on her first visit to a final at Wimbledon.
At just that time on Saturday, Lisicki, who'd bashed her big serve up against Sharapova in vain, was partnering Sam Stosur, another big hitter, to victory in the doubles semi-final.
All alone in the glare of the singles court, though, Sharapova continued to suffer. Kvitova broke instantly. She was now hitting her ground strokes harder than some of either player's serves, taking the dynamic of the game into uncharted areas.
As Kvitova upped the pace of her serve, Sharapova retreated a foot or two behind the baseline and got herself a break through a sublime lob off an abysmally weak forehand at the net by the Czech for 2-2 and renewed hope.
Kvitova gifted her a break point in the sixth game with a forehand as careless as Andy Murray's in the second set on Friday against Rafa Nadal; that did for the Scot – and it cost Kvitova her ascendancy here.
Back on level terms, Sharapova immediately hit another double fault. She saved the first of two break points but, under a sustained assault, hit wide and Kvitova was within sight of the prize.
Sharapova held to love, to invite false hope of a fightback. Kvitova, serving for the match, sealed it with her only ace, bang down the middle.
"You're seeing a really, really special talent," John McEnroe reckoned.