In 1960, Bueno became the first woman ever to win all four Grand Slam double titles in one year (three with Darlene Hard and one with Christine Truman).
Bueno began playing tennis at a very young age at the Clube de Regatas Tiete in Sao Paulo and, without having received any formal training, won her first tournament at age 12. She was 14 when she captured her country's women's singles championship.
She went abroad in 1957 at age 17 and won the Orange Bowl juniors tournament in Florida. Joining the international circuit in 1958, Bueno won the singles title at the Italian Championships and the first of her Grand Slam titles, capturing the women's doubles at Wimbledon with Althea Gibson.
The following year, Bueno won her first singles title at Wimbledon, defeating Darlene Hard in the final. She also won the singles title at the U.S. Championships after a straights set victory in the final against Christine Truman, earning the World No. 1 ranking for 1959 and the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year award. Bueno was the first non-North-American woman to capture both Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships in the same calendar year. In her native Brazil, she returned as a national heroine, honored by the country's president and given a ticker-tape parade on the streets of São Paulo.
According to Lance Tingay of the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail and Bud Collins, Bueno was ranked in the world top ten from 1958 through 1960 and from 1962 through 1968, reaching a career high of World No. 1 in those rankings in 1959 and 1960. The International Tennis Hall of Fame also lists her as the top ranked player in 1964 (after losing the final at the French Championships and winning both Wimbledon and the U.S. Championships) and 1966.
Bueno won the singles title at Wimbledon three times and at the U.S. Championships four times. She was a singles finalist at the Australian Championships and the French Championships, losing both finals to Margaret Court. Bueno reached at least the quarterfinals in each of the first 26 Grand Slam singles tournaments she played. This streak ended at Wimbledon in 1967 when she lost in the fourth round because of an arm injury.
As a doubles player, Bueno won twelve Grand Slam championships with six different partners. In 1960, she became the first woman to win the women's doubles title at all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same calendar year, partnered by Christine Truman at the Australian Championships and Hard at the French Championships, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Championships.
In 1978, Bueno was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
At the 2006 US Open, Maria Bueno was invited to attend the rededication ceremony of the USTA National Tennis Center as the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, which took place on the first day of the event. Bueno and King were rivals in singles and, on occasion, doubles partners. According to Bueno, the only players invited were those who had won the US Open "more than twice" (she won it four times). At the same event, Bueno debuted as a commentator for SporTV, a Brazilian cable television sports channel. She commentated on the women's singles semifinals and final and the men's singles final as well as offering opinions during the live broadcast of the USTA's induction of Martina Navratilova and Don Budge in the "Court of Champions".
Bueno won 19 and lost 16 of her Grand Slam finals. This represents a success rate of 54%.
SR = the ratio of the number of Grand Slam singles tournaments won to the number of those tournaments played.
Note: The Australian Open was held twice in 1977, in January and December.