Mary Carillo on the tragic passing of Maria Bueno

Brazilian tennis legend Maria Bueno passes away at the age of 78.

Bueno also reached the final of the 1964 French Championships and the 1965 Australian Championships but lost to Margaret Court at Roland Garros and retired hurt against the Australian great at Kooyong. She won 19 Grand Slam titles overall, seven in singles, 11 in doubles and one in mixed doubles, between 1959 and 1966.

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 grew up across the street from a tennis club, where her parents played.

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

"She was a pioneer in our country, where few people knew the sport and at a time when everything was much more hard", said tennis player Thomaz Bellucci. She was also the No. 1 ranked tennis player in the world in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1966.

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

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Bueno said men were key to her game.

A tweet posted on the official Tennis Hall of Fame account referred to Bueno as an "accomplished champion who leaves a lasting legacy of inspiration to generations".

Retiring from the sport in 1977, she became a commentator herself for the Brazilian channel SporTV.

In 1962, designer Ted Tinling created several outfits for Ms. Bueno with colored skirt linings and underpants, in violation of a Wimbledon rule that players dress entirely in white.

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

"I'm not good", she told The Associated Press after being named Female Athlete of the Year in 1959.

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