Brazilian tennis great Maria Bueno dies after cancer battle

Brazilian tennis great Maria Bueno dies after cancer battle

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, the hospital where she was being treated said. Over the course of a superb tennis career, Bueno won 19 Grand Slam titles, including seven in singles.

She successfully defended her Wimbledon crown the following year and claimed back-to-back U.S. Nationals titles in 1963-64.

Her last major title came in 1968 when she won the doubles title at the United States Open with Margaret Court, who was among her greatest rivals. She won her first major title as a 19-year-old, winning the 1959 Wimbledon.

Bueno was admitted to the Nove de Julho hospital in Sao Paulo in May. Both her father and mother played, and she was handling a racket at age 6.

FILE In this July 4, 1959 file photo, Maria Bueno of Brazil holds up the trophy after winning the women's singles final in the All-England Lawn Tennis championships at Wimbledon. The hospital said that it would not release any more details on the passing of Bueno out of respect for her family.

She was labelled the "Sao Paulo Swallow" for her ability to dominate the net by former BBC Sport commentator John Barrett. She went to the U.S. 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. She was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1966.

A tweet posted on the official Tennis Hall of Fame account referred to Bueno as an "accomplished champion who leaves a lasting legacy of inspiration to generations". "I had a lot of natural talent, but I had to work hard too", she told The Times.

Bueno said men were key to her game.

Thomaz Bellucci said she was "a pioneer in our country, where few people knew the sport and at a time when everything was much more difficult".

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