Wimbledon tennis legend Maria Bueno dies, aged 78: Tributes pour in to Brazilian hero

TRIBUTES have been paid to tennis legend Maria Bueno, who has died aged 78.

Bueno was one of the most dominant players of her generation as she won 19 major titles during her career.

 Maria Bueno won the Wimbledon singles titles during her brilliant career

Times Newspapers Ltd
Maria Bueno won the Wimbledon singles titles during her brilliant career

She claimed three Wimbledon singles titles, the first coming in 1959 when she also won the US Open.

The Brazilian's huge haul of trophies marked her out as the most successful South American tennis player of all time.

And the sport has paid tribute to her brilliant career after she passed away after a battle with mouth cancer.

A statement from the Tennis Hall of Fame said: "Tonight we remember a graceful and accomplished champion who leaves a lasting legacy of inspiration to generations of players in her native Brazil and beyond."

 Maria Bueno is the most successful South American tennis player of all-time, with 19 Grand Slam titles

Times Newspapers Ltd
Maria Bueno is the most successful South American tennis player of all-time, with 19 Grand Slam titles
 Bueno was a national hero in Brazil and continued to play exhibition matches well into her retirement

Reuters
Bueno was a national hero in Brazil and continued to play exhibition matches well into her retirement

And Wimbledon paid it's own tribute, by tweeting: "The All-England Club is deeply saddened by the death of Maria Bueno, one of our most beloved champions.

"Her humility, grace and inventive play captured hearts around the globe, nowhere more so than in her native Brazil where she is and will forever remain the pride of a nation."

Bueno's 19 Grand Slam titles included seven in singles, 11 in doubles and one in mixed doubles in a career cut shot by an elbow injury.

She is regarded as one of the greatest Wimbledon singles champions of all-time, having triumphed on the grass in 1959, 1960 and 1964.

And she also reigned supreme in the US Open, claiming for singles titles in 1959, 1963, 1964 and 1966.

Her amazing run of form saw her reach at least the quarter-finals in every one of the first 26 Grand Slam singles events she competed in.

That run only came to an end at Wimbledon when she was knocked out in the fourth round, struggling with an arm injury that caused her problems for the rest of her career.

Bueno remained a huge icon in tennis after her retirement, not least in Brazil where she was chosen to carry the Olympic torch for the 2016 Games.

The centre-court at the Olympic Tennis Centre used in Rio de Janeiro is now named after her.

Brazil's President Michel Temer said she would be remembered as "the number one of tennis in the hearts of all Brazilians".

 Bueno carried the Olympic torch ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro

AP:Associated Press
Bueno carried the Olympic torch ahead of the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro

TRIBUTES have been paid to tennis legend Maria Bueno, who has died aged 78.