Maria Bueno, Brazil’s “tennis ballerina,” has passed away at the age of 78 after fighting mouth cancer. Bueno won her first major title at Wimbledon in 1959, when she was 19.Legendary Brazilian tennis player Maria Bueno, who won three Wimbledon and four US championship singles titles, has died at the age of 78 after battling mouth cancer.
Bueno was admitted to the Nove de Julho hospital in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, and the hospital released a statement confirming her death on Friday.
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Nicknamed the “tennis ballerina” because of her graceful style, Bueno was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1978.
She won her first major title at Wimbledon in 1959, when she was 19.
At the time, American journalist and tennis commentator Bud Collins described Bueno as “the incomparably balletic and flamboyant Bueno,” in Tennis Encyclopedia.
“Volleying beautifully, playing with breathtaking boldness and panache, the lithe Brazilian became the first South American woman to win the Wimbledon singles,” Collins wrote.
Overall she won 19 Grand Slam titles, seven in singles, 11 in doubles and one in mixed doubles, between 1959 and 1966. She also reached the singles final at both the Australian Open and the French Open.
Bueno was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1966 and was the first non-American woman to win Wimbledon and the US Open in the same season.
More recently, she was contributing to Brazilian television at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and other major tennis events.
Tributes for the tennis great poured in on Twitter on Friday evening.
Brazilian President Michel Temer tweeted that Bueno “will always be remembered as the number one of tennis in the hearts of all Brazilians.”
law/bw (AFP, AP, Reuters)