CAPE TOWN – “I told him that we are all rooting for him.” That was the message from President Cyril Ramaphosa to Kevin Anderson on the eve of the Wimbledon final on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Anderson, who hails from Johannesburg, will take on Serbian star Novak Djokovic in the title decider at 3pm SA time at the All England Club in south-west London today.
“Well done to Raven Klaasen (who lost in the men’s doubles final) & Kgothatso Montjane (who lost in the women’s wheelchair semi-final) for making it as far as they did at #Wimbledon,” Ramaphosa tweeted on Sunday.
“I called & spoke to Kevin Anderson & wished him the best of luck & told him that we are all rooting for him. He was very pleased and said he’d do his best to make South Africa proud.”
Anderson said ahead of the final that he hopes his achievement – it comes on the back of him making the US Open final last September, where he lost to Rafael Nadal – will result in a new generation of stars from South Africa.
The sport has been on the decline in Mzansi since the retirement of Wayne Ferreira and Amanda Coetzer, but interest has spiked again since Anderson became a top-10 player a few years ago.
It has been a triumphant Wimbledon overall, with Raven Klaasen losing in the men’s doubles final and Kgothatso Montjane going down in the women’s wheelchair semi-final.
Well done to Raven Klaasen & Kgothatso Montjane for making it as far as they did at #Wimbledon. I called & spoke to Kevin Anderson & wished him the best of luck & told him that we are all rooting for him. He was very pleased and said he’d do his best to make South Africa proud. pic.twitter.com/k58xdtVIKI— President Cyril Ramaphosa (@CyrilRamaphosa) July 15, 2018
“It feels great (to fly the flag for South Africa). Obviously there was a whole lot that happened today in terms of the length of the match (the marathon semi-final against John Isner, which he clinched 26-24 in the final set).
“At the end of the day, I’ve put myself into the finals of Wimbledon, which is half of a dream come true.
“I mean really, most people would say it’s the biggest tournament we have. It’s very special. Growing up in South Africa, we had kind of sort of limited access to available tournaments. Wimbledon was the most iconic event.
“So to be here in the finals, it’s amazing. I’ve had so much support from home.
As I said after my previous match, I really hope that it’s a source of inspiration for kids, just interest in tennis.”
Anderson added that he would like to see more South African players come through to the top in future.
“South Africa does have a strong tennis history. We struggled over the last sort of decade or so. It’s not easy. It takes a lot of time,” he said.
“But I hope maybe somebody sits here in 10, 15 years’ time and somebody asks him a question, and he says he watched me playing Wimbledon, that’s one of the reasons he’s here.
“That would definitely be great for me to hear.”
* Follow @IOLsport on Twitter for live updates of the Wimbledon final today between Kevin Anderson and Novak Djokovic at 3pm SA time.@ashfakmohamed