Wake held for Brazil tennis great Maria Bueno

Known for her stylishness and her exciting way of playing, she was the first South American woman to win the Wimbledon singles title.

That same year she went on to win the Wimbledon doubles alongside American Althea Gibson.

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

She had recently been admitted to hospital suffering from mouth cancer. She grew up across the street from a tennis club, where her parents played.

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FILE In this July 4, 1959 file photo, Maria Bueno of Brazil holds up the trophy after winning the women's singles final in the All-England Lawn Tennis championships at Wimbledon. She was sidelined between 1969 and 1974 by severe cramps and pain in her right arm that required multiple operations, a problem she attributed to putting too many demands on herself.

Nicknamed "The Tennis Ballerina" because of her graceful style, Bueno spent most of her career on the court before the professional era. She was ranked No. 1 in the world in 1959, 1960, 1964 and 1966.

A self-taught prodigy, she brought grace to the game and was a dominant force, BBC Americas editor Leonardo Rocha writes.

Her last major title came in 1968 when she won the doubles title at the U.S. Open alongside Margaret Court - one of her biggest rivals in singles.

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For years after retirement she was a commentator on Brazil's SporTV.

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

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

She usually practiced with men - including her brother, who became a star collegiate player in the United States - and modeled her booming serve on photographs of 1920s tennis star Bill Tilden. "I had a lot of natural talent, but I had to work hard too", she told The Times.

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