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From Maria Bueno to Guga: Tennis "do Brasil"!

Wednesday 01 April 2015
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In sport, Brazil has three national treasures: the Brazilian football team, Ayrton Senna and Gustavo Kuerten. With his eternal smile and surfer look − because he surfs − the man from Florianopolis, on the island of Santa Catarina, brought tennis back into fashion in Brazil at the turn of the millennium and has been the country's greatest ambassador abroad.

Three-time champion at Roland-Garros (1997, 2000 and 2001) and a former world number one, "Guga" has a very unique relationship with the Parisian tournament: everyone remembers the heart he drew in the clay on centre court twice during the 2001 tournament (once after saving a match point in the fourth round, and again after striking the victorious shot that won him the trophy).

Read more: Gustavo Kuerten: "2001 was my best 'Guga moment'"

However, in South America's biggest country, tennis is far more than just Kuerten's success. Forty years earlier, Maria Ester Bueno became the first Brazilian (and even the first South American) woman to dominate the international tennis scene, claiming seven Grand Slam singles titles between 1959 and 1966.

Today, the top Brazilian players on the Tour are Thomaz Bellucci (three ATP titles and a fourth round at Roland-Garros in 2010); Marcelo Melo, who won Roland-Garros in doubles in 2015; and Teliana Pereira, winner at Bogota and Florianopolis on the WTA Tour in 2015.

My RG story: watching Gustavo Kuerten
Next Article: Roland-Garros in the City
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