Sao Paulo, June 9 (IANS) Brazilian tennis legend Maria Bueno, who dominated the women’s game in the late 1950s and for much of the 1960s, has died at the age of 78 after a battle with mouth cancer.
Bueno passed away at the 9 de Julho hospital here, where she had been admitted several days earlier, doctors and family members said on Friday, reports Xinhua news agency.
The winner of 19 Grand Slam titles — seven in singles, 11 in doubles and one in mixed doubles — Bueno was nicknamed the tennis ballerina for her elegant playing style.
In 1960, she became the first female player to win a calendar year Grand Slam in doubles when she claimed the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles — each with different partners.
But she rated the 1959 Wimbledon singles title as her greatest career achievement.
“I came from Brazil, where there were only clay courts and we didn’t have any opportunities to practice on grass,” she said in an interview with the WTA.
“So to win for the first time on grass was a big surprise.”
In 1978, Bueno became the first South American to be inducted into the tennis Hall of Fame. She has since been joined by Argentina’s Gabriela Sabatini and compatriot Gustavo Kuerten.