Kgothatso Montjane Wins French Open Title – The First South African In Years

by | Jun 27, 2023 | News

Kgothatso Montjane won the wheelchair doubles at the 2023 French Open in Paris, along with partner Yui Kamiji from Japan. Montjane is the first South African woman to win a French Open since 1981, making this a big win for her and the country.

“It was a moment worth living for,” Montjane told IOL. “I have been fortunate to play both singles and doubles, so it’s an exciting time for me, and I will keep fighting for the singles title that I have been waiting for.

“I am just grateful for the team behind me because if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know how I would have bounced back from a career-threatening injury. Today I am here talking about a doubles Grand Slam.”

Chemistry & communication

Montjane cites her communication with her partner as one of the contributing factors to her win. “It is very important, you need to get along and be able to support each other and lift each other up, because that’s what makes good doubles,” she told 702.

Another challenge to overcome? Both Montjane and her partner are left-handers, used to playing with right-handed partners. Together, they had to learn to manipulate their movements, making this an even more impressive feat.

Having support

“This moment made me reflect and look at where I’m coming from,” says Montjane, who, when she started playing tennis, didn’t like it. But once she started attracting sponsors, the sport turned around for her positively. “When I started being represented and getting proper support, it really showed that with proper support, you can achieve what you put your mind to,” she says.

Kgothatso Montjane playing tennis

Q&A With Kgothatso Montjane

We spoke to Montjane about her incredible win.

What did it feel like immediately after winning the Grand Slam?

“It was unbelievable, you know. I didn’t know what to feel at that particular moment. We were on the court and I couldn’t even show any emotion but I can tell you, later on, my trophy slept next to me. I was just beaming with happiness and not believing what had just happened. I’m really happy for this moment.”

What kind of training went into this tournament, especially with your partner being left-handed like yourself?

“There is a lot that went into it. I remember I started in Madrid for week 1 and I knew Yui  Kamiji, my doubles partner, was coming to Barcelona on Week 2. So we played three tournaments back to back together just before Roland Garros. And those three tournaments we were really just about trying different strategies and tactics. When we got to Roland Garros realizing we were the top seeds, that’s when we looked at each and said, this year we have to get it done. So, it really helped us to play for three weeks before the slam.”

You mentioned before how important having support and sponsorship is for you. What else did you feel really contributed to this win?

“What I feel has really contributed to my win is the support of my team. My managers at Optimize Agency. The support they give me allows me to focus on the game, knowing everything else is taken care of. They know my struggles really well, all they said to me was, “Champ, go show them what you’re made of”. No one has ever believed in me like my team. That, for me, is the support I have always longed for since I started understanding what I really do fully. Also, they have brought me sponsors that are really supportive too in the form of Discovery, Solvay, AVON, Nike, Dunlop, Ottobock & Virgin active. For me, without my team, I would be lost. They mean a lot to me.”

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