Brazil’s Maria Bueno played her competitive tennis career from 1958 to 1968, retiring in her late twenties and just missing the “Open” era. She won Wimbledon three times and the U.S. Championship four times, but just missed the level of acclaim (and money) that would have come even a few years later as women’s tennis entered the mainstream.
There is little footage of her playing career available on YouTube, but this interview with CNN, on the eve of the Brazil Olympics in 2016, gives a good indication of why she was the watchword for grace–on and off the court–to several generations of tennis addicts. Well worth five minutes of your time...especially if you care to be reminded that nothing springs from a vacuum. (On leaving Brazil for the European circuit at eighteen: “They bought me a ticket. One way ticket. ‘Come back when you can.'”)
There’s no good time for a good person to leave our company. But she might be smiling tonight somewhere, on the eve of a French Open women’s final that–in this age of huge-hitting Amazons–will feature two gliders (Romania’s Simona Halep and the American Sloane Stephens).
Proof, perhaps, that some forms of grace never really go out of style, assault them though we will.