Friday, July 5, 2013

The Paulista Who Won at Wimbledon

Juan Martín del Potro of Argentina will attempt to become the first Latin American tennis player to win the men's singles at Wimbledon.  The 2009 U.S. Open champion will likely face a very tough challenge in the semifinals from top ranked Novak Djokovic as he vies to capture his second Grand Slam title.

Two of Del Potro’s fellow Argentines – David Nalbandian and Gabriela Sabatini – made it to the Wimbledon finals though both stumbled at the final hurdle.  In fact, only one Latin American tennis player has won a singles title at the All England Club: Brazil’s Maria Bueno.

In 1959, the nineteen-year-old Bueno captured the Wimbledon crown when she bested Darlene Hard in straight sets:
Her accomplishments in 1959 included a U.S. Open title, the World No. 1 ranking and recipient of the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award.  In Brazil, meanwhile, Bueno was treated as a national heroine, received a ticker tape parade in Rio de Janeiro and was honored a special Mass at the cathedral of her native Sao Paulo.

In the subsequent years, Bueno proved that she was no slouch at Wimbledon and captured two more singles titles in 1960 and 1964.  She also partnered with the likes of Althea Gibson and Billie Jean King to win four ladies' doubles titles between 1958 and 1966. 

Her overall record in Wimbledon finals was 8-6, which includes her finishing as runner-up on the three times she qualified for the mixed doubles finals.

During her thirteen-year career, Bueno captured nineteen major titles including becoming the first woman ever to win all four Grand Slam double titles in one year (1960). 

She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1978 though, perhaps more importantly, she ushered in new generations of Latin American tennis stars who owe her an immense debt of gratitude.

Video Source– YouTube via rluiz66

Online Sources – The Guardian; International Tennis Hall of Fame;

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