Next Story Brazil tennis great Maria Bueno buried

Brazilian'queen of tennis Maria Bueno claimed the Wimbledon title four times in the 1950s and'60s

Maria Bueno, the Brazilian "queen" of tennis, who won three Wimbledon and four USA championship singles titles, died Friday in Sao Paulo at age 78, the hospital where she was being treated said.

The mouth cancer was discovered past year and her condition became serious a few days ago when she was transferred to the 9 de Julho Hospital in Sao Paulo.

She swept the Brazilian scene, then the Caribbean circuit, and grabbed worldwide attention by winning the Italian Championships in 1958, beating the best English and Australian players.

"She was very courageous", her nephew Pedro Bueno told reporters.

Tributes for the tennis great poured in on Twitter on Friday evening.

The president of the Brazilian Tennis Confederation, Rafael Westrupp, said Bueno was "the biggest name in Brazilian tennis" and the sport was "in mourning". On Friday the hospital released a statement confirming her death but declined to provide further details. Over the course of a superb tennis career, Bueno won 19 Grand Slam titles, including seven in singles. She went to the US at the age of 17 to take her career to a higher level and had a strong determination to improve every single element of her game until she retired.

An arm injury forced her out of competition from 1969 to 1974.

"In my era, tennis was totally amateur".

"I think what she did on the court — with courage and determination — is what she did with the illness until the end, until the last days", he said. "I even met the pope and Princess Diana".

She was labelled the "Sao Paulo Swallow" for her ability to dominate the net by former BBC Sport commentator John Barrett.

Bueno was also a prolific doubles player, claiming women's titles at all four of the grand slams from 1958-68 and a mixed doubles championship at Roland Garros in 1960. In his authoritative Tennis Encyclopedia, Bud Collins called Ms. Bueno "incomparably balletic and flamboyant" and said she played "with breathtaking boldness and panache". She also reached the singles final at both the Australian Open and the French Open.

Bueno was a consultant for several years for Sportv and commented on matches with Gustavo "Guga" Kuerten, the other Brazilian tennis legend.

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