Petra Kvitova defeated Maria Sharapova 6-3, 6-4 in the Ladies' Singles final of Wimbledon 2011, claiming the first Grand Slam title of her career. Here's a look at what this result means for both Kvitova and Sharapova moving forward.
What winning means for Petra Kvitova:
With a multitude of former Wimbledon winners in attendance (including Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Virginia Wade, Ann Jones, Jana Novotna, Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Amelie Mauresmo, and, of course, Maria Sharapova), Petra Kvitova announced herself as a champion to be reckoned with, dominating Maria Sharapova for a 6-3, 6-4 win that gave the twenty-one year-old Czech her first grand slam title.
It's rare for a player's first Grand Slam crown to come at Wimbledon, but when it does happen (as it did before for Roger Federer, Venus Williams, and Sharapova), it's usually a pretty good sign that there is a lot more to come.
Much like it was with Rory McIlroy weeks ago in the wake of his U.S. Open victory, the discussion isn't about if Kvitova can win another Slam, but about how many more she will win.
Kvitova, the first player born in the '90s to win a grand slam, has all the characteristics that could make her the dominant player of her generation. Her ground strokes are fearless, her serve is effective, and her left-handedness gives opponents a challenge they don't often face in today's game (the only other lefty in the Top 30 is fellow Czech Lucie Safarova).
Petra Kvitova was ranked No. 34 in the WTA at the end of 2010, and will rise to No. 7 with this victory. But
Kvitova doesn't have the personality or accent-less English that were such big contributors to Sharapova's star turn, though both should improve over time. She already has a contract with Nike (though presumably a far less lucrative one than Sharapova's record-setting deal), and additional endorsements from all sorts of non-tennis companies should come in the next several months.
But winning so decisively on such a big stage could also potentially cause problems for Kvitova. Not only will she have a target on her back in the eyes of competitors who will now consider her one of the biggest possible scalps, she will also be under a lot more scrutiny from the media.
And though she's been unfailingly polite both on and off the court, those looking to find dirt on Kvitova can easily do so, especially with regard to her 16-year-old boyfriend, Adam Pavlasek. But Pavlasek is above the age of consent in the Czech Republic (15) and most everywhere else, so their relationship is not likely to be anything more than gossip.
What losing means for Maria Sharapova:
For Maria Sharapova to lose her first Grand Slam final in over three years in straight sets to Petra Kvitova has to be a bitter disappointment.
Sharapova's serve, which was such a big part of her last grand slam title at the Australian Open in 2008, failed her when it mattered most yet again. She was broken five times, and hit six double faults, numbers that make it pretty tough to win a match against elite competition.
Sharapova had to know that she was still capable of making it this far at a Grand Slam, especially having just reached the semifinals of the French Open in June. And though getting a step further in this tournament should give her confidence that she's closer now than she has been in a long time, she did not have to beat the most awe-inspiring list of foes to reach the last round, not facing a single player seeded higher than No. 20 until she eventually lost to No. 8 Kvitova.
Sharapova has a run to the finals of Cincinnati to defend in August, but other than that there is a lot room for her to move even further up the rankings in the coming month. If she is able to see this tournament as a step in the right direction, Wimbledon 2011 could be seen as a turning point in Sharapova's career. But if coming this close and falling short makes her doubt herself, this could be the closest she ever comes to a fourth Grand Slam title.