Wheelchair tennis superstar Kgothatso Montjane broke down and cried during her speech as she appreciated the support from cosmetic giants Avon for whom she is now an ambassador.
Recalling how she came close to quitting the sport due to lack of financial backing, the four-tine Paralympian expressed delight at being seen as worthy of the support.
"From a distance I have watched Avon creating awareness of breast cancer and I admired what you were doing. And now to be a part of you, I believe together we can keep giving women hope and encouraging them to believe in themselves," the Wimbledon semifinalist said in Sandton on Wednesday.
She herself was given hope by her management agency Optimize at a time when she saw no reason to keep playing.
"I am grateful to have met Optimise because you saved my career," she said of the ag ncy ran by Emmy Casseletti-Bwalya "I had reached a dead end (she sobs), but you came and made me a shining star. And now you keep helping me with these sponsors.
"At some point there was really no light but God kept me going. South African tennis had Kevin Anderson but he was based in America and I felt that if no one plays it is like South Africa has no one representing. I was the only woman playing at the highest level and I did not mind doing that even if I had to keep being a struggling athlete all my life "
The partnership is a timely motivation for Montjane who will be sending her South African Open title beginning Thursday at Ellis Park.
"I am still a bit tired now but I am looking forward to defending my title. it is our home tournament and I enjoy playing it."
Montjane missed out on a medal at the recent Tokyo Paralympics but looks back at th Games grateful to have participated.
"It was my fourth Paralympics and yes it did not go well but that's how it is, you cannot win all the time."