BSP-02 Legendary Brazilian tennis player Maria Bueno dies

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BSP-02

BRAZIL-TENNIS-BRA-BUENO

Legendary Brazilian tennis player Maria Bueno dies

SAO PAULO, June 9, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Maria Bueno, the Brazilian “queen” of
tennis, who won three Wimbledon and four US championship singles titles, died
Friday in Sao Paulo at age 78, her nephew told the Globo Esporte site.

She had been suffering from mouth cancer since last year and was
hospitalized in May.

Nicknamed the “Sao Paulo Swallow” for her ability to dominate the net,
Bueno was a teen prodigy despite having no formal coaching, according to the
International Hall of Fame, which she entered in 1978.

She swept the Brazilian scene, then the Caribbean circuit, and grabbed
international attention by winning the Italian Championships in 1958, beating
the best English and Australian players.

That same year she went on to win the Wimbledon doubles alongside American
Althea Gibson. And although she once told reporters “I’m afraid of everyone I
play,” her glory days were only just beginning.

Known for her stylishness and her exciting way of playing, she was the
first South American woman to win the Wimbledon singles title.

One tennis writer, John Barrett, called her “the elegant queen of Brazilian
tennis.”

Her one major title of the open era, when big tournaments opened to
professionals, was the 1968 US Open doubles alongside Australian legend
Margaret Court.

Another doubles partner was Billie Jean King, with whom she won the
Wimbledon title in 1965.

“In my era, tennis was totally amateur. I’d only take two rackets to a
tournament and the prize for winning Wimbledon was a o15 voucher,” she said
in a 2015 interview with YouTube channel Esporte Ponto Final.

“But through sport I got things that money can’t buy. I even met the pope
and Princess Diana.”

For years after retirement she was a commentator on Brazil’s SporTV.

World number one in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1966, Bueno was Brazil’s best ever
player, winning 19 Grand Slam titles. These included Wimbledon singles titles
in 1959, 1960 and 1964, and the US National Championship — precursor to
today’s US Open — in 1959, 1963, 1964 and 1966.

She also got to the finals of the French championship in 1964 and the
Australian in 1965.

BSS/AFP/AU/07:35 hrs