Johannesburg - Wheelchair tennis ace Kgothatso “KG” Montjane is steadily earning the same recognition as her accomplished Limpopo homies, runner Caster Semenya and soccer ace Hlompho Kekana.
This week, Montjane welcomed Audi Centre in Polokwane as her latest sponsor – the same week her friend, Olympic champion Semenya, launched a new TV advert for sporting goods giant Nike.
Montjane, currently ranked fifth in the world, became the first black African wheelchair tennis player to reach the semifinals of two grand slams: the Wimbledon Championship in June and the US Open last weekend.
The feat suddenly made the 32-year-old an ambassador for various corporates. Backers came calling after it emerged that Montjane did not have enough financial support to prepare for, and travel to, major international tournaments.
Since her stellar performance at Wimbledon, the player has signed up with 10 sponsors in deals worth about R1.5 million.
On Wednesday, the Audi dealership in Polokwane handed her an Audi Q2 during an event attended by a sizeable media contingent, as well as her family and friends.
She will also enjoy free accommodation at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate in Modimolle, also in Limpopo.
“For me, it’s all about breaking barriers, yet I’m not trying to be on the same level as able-bodied athletes,” Montjane told City Press.
Mamelodi Sundowns captain Kekana also has a car sponsor after he was appointed brand ambassador for Volkswagen in Polokwane.
“I wouldn’t say I want to be at the top with the likes of Caster and Hlompho,” said KG.
“People see disability before they see the athlete.
“Caster and I are pretty close. Our friendship is not something that is all over the place, it’s just a matter of being there for each other as homegirls.”
Montjane hinted that they could get involved in a sporting event together at some point in the future to plough back into their community.
“We do have this vision, but time is a challenge due to our extensive travelling. I believe that, when the time is right, we will do it.”
Only a few athletes can manage to attract so much sponsorship while playing one of the so-called Cinderella sports. This proves that KG is a rare breed.
“Tennis is known to be a white sport in this country, but it takes a lot of courage to take on that sport. You can only try the best you can in every sport that you play,” she said.
Montjane’s next stop is Italy and France to play in tournaments whose dates are still to be announced.