Seven-time Grand Slam champion Maria Esther Bueno, who passed away on Friday, was "the first superstar of South America".
WTA Staff
June 9, 2018

Billie Jean King has led the tennis world's tributes to Maria Esther Bueno, who passed away on Friday after a battle with cancer, aged 78.

Read more: Tennis world mourns the passing of Maria Esther Bueno

"Rest in peace, Maria Bueno," the American tweeted of her Brazilian former opponent and doubles partner. "I always looked forward to seeing Maria at Wimbledon and some of the major tournaments. She was the first superstar of South America and is revered there.

"She was a huge influence on my career and for many players from my generation. She was the one we all looked up to. I had the privilege of winning a Wimbledon doubles title with her in 1965.

"She was very elegant on the court - the way she looked and especially the way she played. She had fans all over the world and will be missed."

Bueno was a trailblazer for her nation, and the Brazilian players who followed her through the years all conveyed a gratitude for what she had done for tennis in their country. Current Brazilian No.1 Beatriz Haddad Maia, three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten, 1999 Roland Garros semifinalist Fernando Meligeni and current ATP players Thomaz Bellucci, Thiago Monteiro and Marcelo Melo all took to social media to say "obrigada" and "obrigado".

Bueno, who was the Wimbledon singles champion in 1959, 1960 and 1964 and who won the US Open in 1959, 1963, 1964 and 1966, is the most successful South American player in tennis history. The Brazilian also became the first woman to win all four doubles Grand Slam titles in one year in 1960, alongside Darlene Hard and Christine Truman.

Those tournaments also shared memories of the beloved champion on social media.