Brazilian tennis great Maria Bueno dies

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Legendary Brazilian tennis player Maria Bueno, who won three Wimbledon and four United States championship singles titles, has died at the age of 78 after battling mouth cancer.

The elegant Bueno, South America's most successful player, shot to global fame when she claimed her maiden grand slam at Wimbledon in 1959 and her second at the U.S. Nationals two months later. Bueno essentially retired after the 1977 season although she did play in mixed doubles at Wimbledon in 1980. She also reached the singles final at both the Australian Open and the French Open.

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

She had been suffering from mouth cancer since previous year and was hospitalized in May. She grew up across the street from a tennis club, where her parents played.

"We send our condolences to the friends and loved ones of Maria Bueno, a four-time #USOpen singles and doubles champion".

However, her career was hampered right at the start of the Open Era, when she suffered arm and leg injuries.

Bueno was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1966.

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Bueno said men were key to her game.

Another doubles partner was Billie Jean King, with whom she won the Wimbledon title in 1965. She later became a leading tennis commentator on Brazilian television.

Maria Esther Bueno was born on October 11, 1939, in São Paulo, and grew up across the street from a tennis club.

"There was a gasp from one end of the court", Ms. Bueno later recalled.

"She had this fantastic brooding character, the impression of an imminent storm", Tinling told Sports Illustrated in 1969, "and I had to illustrate that in some way".

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".