It’s a great feeling to win the French Open says SA’s wheelchair ace KG Montjane

Kgothatso Montjane of South Africa celebrates at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, Day 11, The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London

File pic. South Africa's leading female wheelchair player Montjane lifted a maiden Major title in the French Open over the weekend. Picture: Shutterstock

Published Jun 12, 2023


Cape Town - It was more than three decades ago that South Africa produced a winner at the French Open, but on Saturday, star wheelchair players Donald Ramphadi and Kgothatso 'KG' Montjane were both crowned Grand Slam champions.

The unseeded Ramphadi and his British partner Andy Lapthorne won the French Open title in the men’s quad doubles final. They pulled off back-to-back giant-killing acts against the top two seeded teams.

On Saturday, they defeated the top seeds, Australian Heath Davidson and Canada's Robert Shaw, 1-6 6-2 (10-3) in the final, just 24 hours after they eliminated the second seeds.

Ramphadi’s Grand Slam breakthrough was extra special, as he celebrated his 30th birthday on Saturday.

The last time a South African male player won at the French Open was in 1972. South Africans Bob Hewitt and Frew McMillan won the men's doubles title.

Next into the history books was South Africa's leading female wheelchair player Montjane, who lifted a maiden Major title. Playing with Yui Kamijin of Japan as the No 1 seeds, they defeated the unseeded Diede de Groot (The Netherlands) and Maria Florencia Moreno (Argentina) 6-3, 6-2.

De Groot is a five-time champion after a successful partnership with former Dutch star Aniek van Koot.

Montjane, along with Kamijin, reached the final last year but were defeated by the Dutch pair De Groot and Van Koot, a former world No 1 ranked singles and doubles player.

The last time a South African female player won at the French Open was Rosalyn Fairbank who lifted the women's doubles title in 1983 when she played with American Candy Reynolds. Fairbank also won the title two years prior when she played with fellow South African Tanya Harford.

It was the fifth time lucky for globally No 8 ranked Montjane, who by this time had four runners-up Grand Slam doubles medals.

"It is such a great feeling and moment for me," said Montjane.

"I am really happy that I managed to win my first Grand Slam, even though it’s doubles.

"It was a moment worth living for. 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."

Ramphadi, who is ranked No 4 globally, fought back gallantly with Lapthorne after losing the opening set. Ramphadi heaped praise on his highly experienced partner.

"It was truly nerve-wracking when we began, especially after losing the first set 6-1," said Ramphadi.

"With an experienced partner like Lapthorne, who is a natural leader, we regained our composure. We remembered our strategy from our match against the top-seeded team and implemented it throughout the second and final sets.

"It was special for me. It was my birthday and my first Grand Slam.

"It's a day I'll never forget. It hasn't sunk in yet, but people are sending in messages, which shows the support, and that people are watching."


IOL Sport

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TennisFrench Open