Wimbledon 2011: Petra Kvitova says confidence helped her win

Petra Kvitova says last year's semi-final defeat and a boost in confidence helped her overcome Maria Sharapova and become Wimbledon champion on Saturday.

Twelve months after Serena Williams denied her a place in the final, the Czech eighth seed crushed Sharapova to secure a first Grand Slam title.

"Last year I had experience from the semi-final," the 21-year-old said.

"I was young and didn't think I could beat her. I like finals and I like the big matches. Today I felt I could win."

It was a devastating display of crushing forehands, dominant serving and a cool head against the 24-year-old Russian many regarded as a hot favourite to regain the title she last won in 2004.

Being broken in the very first game suggested that Kvitova, in her first Grand Slam final, may struggle with nerves against her more experienced opponent.

But the lively left-hander swiftly settled to take the first set and despite a minor wobble in the middle of set two, secured a famous 6-3 6-4 triumph in 85 minutes to become the third Czech to lift the women's singles crown after Martina Navratilova and Jana Novtona.

"I was surprised how I was feeling on the court because I was focused only on the point and on the game and not on the final and the medal. So I'm so happy for that," added Kvitova.

"I was like before a normal match. We said with the coaches that I was playing in the fourth round.

"But I knew that I had to be the first who was playing hard and who was making the points. So I tried it."

In a final of eight breaks of serve, it was Sharapova, who has only recently come back to form since shoulder surgery in 2008, who struggled to hold.

But the despondent three-time Grand Slam winner felt she was out-played in other areas.

"There were a lot of things that I could have done better besides the serve," Sharapova said. "When we were in the points, I wouldn't say I won every single point.

"She was hitting really powerfully and hitting winners from all over the court. She was just more aggressive, she hit deeper and harder, and got the advantage in the points. Sometimes it's just too good."

Despite the loss, Sharapova expressed her delight at being able to compete for the big trophies again.

"It's great to be back at this stage and holding the runner-up plate, but I wanted the big one," she added. "It's something I want to be back for and holding again one day.

"I would have loved to turn that match around. Maybe it will happen tomorrow. I also think this is a big step for me. I feel like I'm improving this year. That gives me a tremendous amount of confidence for the rest of the year."

After beginning the year with the Brisbane International title, followed by a quarter-final spot in the Australian Open, Kvitova surged into the top 10 rankings after beating Victoria Azarenka to win the Madrid Open just a few weeks before Wimbledon.

And after the Czech acquired her first Grand Slam title at the All-England Club, Sharapova predicted further glory for her conqueror.

"She's a Grand Slam champion," the Russian said. "She has a tremendous amount of potential to go even further and achieve many great things. If she keeps playing like that and keeps her level up, she has a great game for it."