Brazilian great Bueno dies aged 78

Brazilian tennis great Maria Bueno dies after battle with cancer

Brazilian tennis player Maria Bueno, who won three Wimbledon singles titles, has died aged 78 following a battle with mouth cancer.

Overall she won 19 Grand Slam titles, seven in singles, 11 in doubles and one in mixed doubles, between 1959 and 1966.

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

But she rated the 1959 Wimbledon singles title as her greatest career achievement.

The mouth cancer was discovered previous year and her condition became serious a few days ago when she was transferred to the 9 de Julho Hospital in Sao Paulo. She had been suffering from mouth cancer since previous year and was hospitalized in May.

"We send our condolences to the friends and loved ones of Maria Bueno, a four-time #USOpen singles and doubles champion". 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. On Friday the hospital released a statement confirming her death but declined to provide further details. She was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1966.

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More recently, she was contributing to Brazilian television at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and other major tennis events.

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

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

Maria Esther Bueno was born on October 11, 1939, in São Paulo, and grew up across the street from a tennis club. She was voted female athlete of the year in a nationwide poll of sportswriters conducted by The Associated Press.

Off the court, Bueno also had an interest in fashion and played in dresses tailored by English couturier Ted Tinling.

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

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