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. The hospital released a statement on Friday afternoon confirming her death, but declined to provide more details out of respect for her family. Bueno won three Wimbledon singles titles and four at the US Open in the 1950s and 1960s.
Ms. Bueno, who won her first national championship in Brazil at age 14, was known for her lithe, graceful style on the court and for her powerful serve and backhand.
Bueno then took her first Wimbledon singles title in 1959, along with the United States championship title, becoming the world number one and earning her the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award.
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Brazilian tennis star Beatriz Haddad Maia said that Bueno "always showed a lot of fight", both on and off the courts. A New York Times reporter marveled at Ms. Bueno's "fluent and nearly flawless performance" and her "catlike coverage" of the court.
Born in the city of Sao Paulo, Maria Esther Bueno made history as the first South American woman to win the Wimbledon singles title.
Bueno was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1978. She reached the finals at Wimbledon two more times, only to lose to Court in 1965 and to Billie Jean King in 1966.
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Bueno said men were key to her game. "People said I looked effortless, but that was from training with guys", said Bueno, who played without a coach.
She went on to win the Wimbledon doubles that same year alongside American Althea Gibson.
Her one major title of the open era, when big tournaments opened to professionals, was the 1968 U.S. Open doubles alongside Australian legend Margaret Court. She was voted female athlete of the year in a nationwide poll of sportswriters conducted by The Associated Press.
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