TENNIS CHAMPION MARIA BUENO LOSES BATTLE WITH CANCER • THE MOST GRACEFUL PLAYER EVER TO GRACE A COURT

Written by: on 9th June 2018
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TENNIS CHAMPION MARIA BUENO LOSES BATTLE WITH CANCER • THE MOST GRACEFUL PLAYER EVER TO GRACE A COURT  |

By Richard Pagliaro

 

Brazil’s greatest champion, Maria Bueno, died after a bout with mouth cancer on Friday, June 8th.

 

She was 78.

 

A seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, Bueno was beloved as one of the game’s most graceful champions.

 

Bueno’s gliding movement and fast hands earned her the nickname “Sao Paulo Swallow.”

 

Maria Esther Bueno was born on October 11th, 1939. She grew into a dynamic all-court player who captured 19 Grand Slam titles overall.

 

Bueno was a game-changing champion becoming the first South American to win Wimbledon in 1959. She was world No. 1 in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1966 and remains 12th on the all-time list of major singles champion.

 

A beautiful serve-and-volleyer who could change direction sharply, Bueno’s grace on court inspired designer Ted Tinling to create apparel for her that furthered her popularity as a chic stylist and tennis trend setter.

 

Bueno attracted casual sports fans to tennis as Gabriela Sabatini did years later.

 

International Tennis Hall of Fame writer Bud Collins wrote of Bueno “… the incomparably balletic and flamboyant Bueno. Volleying beautifully, playing with breathtaking boldness and panache, the lithe Brazilian became the first South American women to win the Wimbledon singles.”

 

That Wimbledon singles championship prompted Brazil to issue a postage stamp in Bueno’s honor, Correios de Brasil.

 

Bueno was a four-time US Open champion, who inspired awe in fellow champions.

 

“She was such a beautiful player. I used to watch her play, and not watch the ball at all,” Roland Garros champion Françoise Dürr once said of Bueno.

 

Bueno was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1978. Bueno and Sabatini remain the only South American women inducted into the Hall of Fame.

 

Bueno stayed active on the pro circuit traveling as a TV commentator.

 

A remarkably humble champion, Bueno often rode the media bus back to the hotel during the US Open and was always gracious and willing to chat with fellow media members.

 

She will be missed.

 

Editors note: She was the first Maria. And no. She did not make a sound. Not a peep came out of her. And she was graceful on all surfaces. But we loved seeing her play on grass the most. Sheer elegance. Kind person. RIP.

 

 

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