Sharapova became the first Russian to win a Wimbledon (search) singles title, and the third youngest women's champion in history.
After Williams hit a forehand into the net to end the 73-minute match, Sharapova dropped to her knees at the baseline and covered her face with her hands. She raised her arms and walked to the net, where Williams greeted her warmly.
Sharapova pumped her fists, whacked a ball into the stands and climbed into the guest box to hug her father, Yuri. She pulled out a cell phone and tried to call her mother but couldn't get through immediately.
Sharapova accepted the winner's trophy — the Venus Rosewater dish — from the Duke of Kent.
"I want to cut up this trophy and give it to everybody, this whole crowd," she said.
Turning to Williams, Sharapova said, "I have to take this trophy from you for one year. I'm sorry. ... I'm sure we're going to be here one more time and hopefully many more times in other Grand Slams and fight for the trophy. Thank you for giving me a tough match but I'm sorry I had to win today."
On the men's side, defending champion Roger Federer and Andy Roddick each won their semifinal matches Saturday to set up a showdown between the top two seeded players in the Wimbledon final.
Sharapova, playing in her first Grand Slam final, put on a virtuoso performance against the six-time Grand Slam winner. She showed no signs of nerves and kept Williams on the defensive, hitting 17 winners and only 11 errors.
"It wasn't my day," a gracious Williams told the Centre Court crowd. "Maria played a really good match. Congratulations on your first Grand Slam."
Federer needed 29 minutes and four match points to complete a 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (6) win over Sebastien Grosjean, extending his grass-court winning streak to 23 matches.
Roddick beat 20-year-old Mario Ancic, 6-4, 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 to reach his first Wimbledon final and second Grand Slam championship match. He won last year's U.S. Open.
It will be the first Wimbledon men's final between the top two seeded players since 1982.