Kgothatso Montjane: the Wheelchair tennis Athlete conquers the World AGAIN
Kgothatso Montjane , born 3 June 1986 is a wheelchair tennis player from South Africa. In 2018, she became the first black South African woman to compete at Wimbledon. She was born in the township of Seshego on the periphery of Polokwane, Limpopo with a congenital disorder (birth defect) called amniotic band syndrome, which affected all her limbs. She had to have part of her left foot amputated when she was barely a teenager in 1999, as it was not well developed. She is a successful wheelchair tennis player who is placed in the top 10 of the ITF ranking. Her highest rank was 5 in the world in 2005. She was named South Africa's disabled sportswoman of the year three times, in 2005, 2011 and 2015.
She was a member of the South African team at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Summer Paralympics, but was not able to secure a medal. Besides being a Paralympian, she was a 2009 and 2011 World Team Cup participant for South Africa.
In 2018, she managed to qualify for the prestigious Wimbledon tournament, the first black South African woman to do so. In the same year, she also competed at the US Open and became therefore the first African wheelchair tennis player to qualify for all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year.
Below the interview of Kgothatso Montjane with the FABAFRIQ Magazine editorial team.
FabAfriq Magazine: Montjane, thank you for accepting to take part in this interview.
Kgothatso Montjane: Thank you it’s a pleasure to be chatting to you.
FabAfriq Magazine: For the starting block, who is Kgothatso Montjane?
Kgothatso Montjane: I’m a professional wheelchair tennis athlete, I started playing tennis at age of 19.
I was born with congenital birth defects, I have been living with disability since I was born.
I have a degree in BSc in Recreation and Leisure studies from University of Venda. I'm ranked number 1 in South Africa and I'm the first black south African woman to ever compete at Wimbledon. I’m 3 time Paralympian.
FabAfriq Magazine: What are the three words that define you?
Kgothatso Montjane: Kind, Talented and Funny
FabAfriq Magazine: How do you feel as the first African woman wheelchair Tennis player to be selected to participate in the different tennis world tournaments?
Kgothatso Montjane: I feel really blessed, considering that in the village I grew up in I was never exposed to a sport like tennis but rather soccer and netball.
FabAfriq Magazine: Tell us more. What are the different challenges that you face in your sport career?
Kgothatso Montjane: challenges I face in the sport, remains the issues of funding. Tennis is not a popular sport in Africa so it makes sponsorship difficult to acquire. For one to become a pro they need support.
FabAfriq Magazine: What has been your greatest achievement in your sport career as a wheelchair tennis player?
Kgothatso Montjane: Becoming the first black south African woman to even compete at Wimbledon.
FabAfriq Magazine: What does the future of wheelchair tennis look like for you?
Kgothatso Montjane: I’m not sure how long I still have but my wish is to win a major tournament.
FabAfriq Magazine: According to you, what are the different traits that a wheelchair tennis player needs to succeed?
Kgothatso Montjane: you need to be mentally strong. You need to be physically fit. You need to have a spirit to fight.
FabAfriq Magazine: What would you like to see change in wheelchair tennis in Africa and more especially in South Africa?
Kgothatso Montjane: I would like t o see more programmes and tournaments happening because that what will attract people to be part of the sport.
FabAfriq Magazine: What advice can you give to the disabled people who aspire to be wheelchair tennis players?
Kgothatso Montjane: their disability doesn’t define their abilities.
FabAfriq Magazine: Apart from tennis, what are your hobbies and favourite dishes?
Kgothatso Montjane: I love playing table tennis, video games and reading. I prefer my African dish “pap and meat”.
FabAfriq Magazine: Thank you for your opportunity and time
Kgothatso Montjane: Thank you.