Published: Tue, June 12, 2018
Sport | By

Wake held for Brazil tennis great Maria Bueno

Wake held for Brazil tennis great Maria Bueno

Brazilian tennis legend Maria Bueno passes away at the age of 78. On Friday the hospital released a statement confirming her death but declined to provide further details.

Bueno won 19 major titles during her career in the 1950s and 60s, including three Wimbledon singles titles and four USA championships.

Nicknamed "The Tennis Ballerina" because of her graceful style, Bueno spent most of her career on the court before the professional era.

Bueno then took her first Wimbledon singles title in 1959, along with the USA championship title, becoming the world number one and earning her the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award.

As Ms. Bueno continued her reign as one of the decade's top players, she developed a strong rivalry with Margaret Smith Court, beating the Australian player in the finals of the U.S. Open in 1963. She went to the US at the age of 17 to take her career to a higher level and had a strong determination to improve every single element of her game until she retired. Bueno essentially retired after the 1977 season although she did play in mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1980.


A self-taught prodigy, she brought grace to the game and was a dominant force, BBC Americas editor Leonardo Rocha writes.

He added: "She fought until the end, I think what she did on the court - with courage and determination - is what she did with the illness until the end, until the last days".

Fellow tennis player Thomaz Koch said Bueno was a fun-loving person who loved to tell jokes. "I had a lot of natural talent, but I had to work hard too", she told The Times.

She was labelled the "Sao Paulo Swallow" for her ability to dominate the net by former BBC Sport commentator John Barrett. She was sidelined between 1969 and 1974 by severe cramps and pain in her right arm that required multiple operations, a problem she attributed to putting too many demands on herself. "And the people at the other end didn't know why, until I changed ends and served from there".

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