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.
But it was desperately disappointing outcome for Russian fifth seed Sharapova, the 2004 champion who had been heavily favoured to win her fourth Grand Slam crown.
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.