Beatriz Haddad Maia became the first Brazilian woman in 55 years to reach the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam when she beat Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-7(3) 6-3 7-5 at the French Open on Monday.
Maria Bueno, who won seven singles titles at the slams, was the last Brazilian woman to reach the quarter-finals at a major in 1968, although Haddad Maia says she still cannot compare with the great “dancing tennis player”.
“She’s a person who inspired us for a lot of years. I think she’s a very powerful woman,” 14th seed Haddad Maia told a press conference after winning the longest women’s match at this year’s tournament.
“I have a picture with her in Wimbledon. That was a lucky day. Also, I met her a few times in Sao Paulo. Unfortunately, she passed away (in 2018) but we chatted a few times.
“I’m very proud to represent Brazil. But for sure I don’t compare myself with her, because for me, she’s on another level, like Guga (Kuerten).”
🇧🇷 Brazil’s Best 🇧🇷
Haddad Maia is off to a first Slam final eight after her 3 hour and 51 minute encounter with Sorribes Tormo 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 5, 2023
Haddad Maia was just a year old when Gustavo Kuerten won the first of his three French Open titles in 1997 and he continues to inspire players like her.
“He’s for sure one of the people who made a difference for tennis in Brazil. We have a good relationship. One of the things that he teaches everyone is to play with the heart,” she added.
“He’s an inspiration for me, but as Maria Esther Bueno, I don’t compare myself with them, because for me, they are on another level.”
The Brazilian recovered from a set and two breaks down to win the three hour and 51 minute epic against Sorribes Tormo.
“I think tennis is not 100-meter race, it’s a marathon especially my matches. The key was to fight today,” she said.
“I had injuries. I had four surgeries also. So it’s not easy to come back, but I think that’s why I’m very strong when I play three, four hours. I’m very proud of myself because of that, as well.
“I’m very happy to be in the quarter-finals. It’s a dream. I think since I start to play tennis, me, my family, and everybody from my team, I was dreaming and working very hard for this moment.”
Haddad Maia will face Tunisian seventh seed Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
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