POLOKWANE – Kgothatso Montjane is not shy to say she did not have a choice when it came to the sport she wanted to practice.
“I picked up my love for tennis along the way. I was forced to play tennis while in high school and when I got to varsity, wheelchair tennis was the only sport being played and I decided to join as I had always loved playing sport,” she told BONUS.
She added being born with a disability is always a big deal because of the stigma which surrounds people with disabilities.
“It’s never comfortable. I was fortunate that my parents took me to a boarding school for people with disabilities so I could realise I’m not the only one who was born different.
“This helped me to be confident about myself and view life differently.”
It is something she urges people do when they have children, or even loved ones, who have a disability.
“Give them the opportunities to live a normal life, as normal as possible, and help them meet up with groups and people who share their situation as this will help them not only come to terms but help them become more self-confident,” she added.
Montjane, the first black South African woman to compete at Wimbledon, defeated Katharina Kruger of Germany just over a week ago.
The 32-year-old Montjane from Seshego in Limpopo received a wildcard into the draw and is ranked world no 8 in wheelchair tennis.
“Being invited to one of the biggest stages in the tennis world meant so much to me. It really makes you realise how far you have come and what you really are able to do once you set your mind to it,” she explained.
Her advice to young people, especially girls, is to never give up if they have a dream. “No matter who you are, you can be the best as long as you work hard and believe in yourself,” she said.
She added staying motivated at a competition like Wimbledon means you need to learn to be nice to yourself and keep positive, no matter what happens in a match. “Forgive yourself for the mistakes you make.”
She described herself as a person who is funny and chilled but does panic very easily when she gets into a fix.
Her role models are the Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, and she likes watching their matches, old and new, to see what they do in different situations on the court.
“On me having something that the Williams sisters do not, I am the first black African woman to represent the whole continent at Wimbledon and that is something they will never be able to say,” Montjane said with a proud smile.
She added as soon as she is back from all the tennis action, she looks forward to getting back to projects she is running in her community where she gives back to the people who support her.
“Once I get the needed funding, I believe that these projects will take off very well and help the people in my area who are in need,” she added.