History in the making
Montjane was the first African to reach a Grand Slam wheelchair singles final. The 35-year-old lost out to Japan’s Yui Kamiji and Britain’s Jordanne Whiley in the doubles alongside British partner Lucy Shuker on Saturday, and to Diede de Groot of the Netherlands in the singles on Sunday.
Montjane has stated that her experience at Wimbledon has helped her prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics, which will be her third.
“I feel it’s quite a confidence booster and it happened at the right time just before Tokyo,” she told BBC World Service’s Newsday programme.
“I feel like this year I had so many questions about myself in terms of Tokyo: ‘Are you ready? What’s going on? Are you moving ahead? Where are you going to get?’ So I feel like I have got the answers that I was looking for.”
“From now on, I can only work even harder, and keep building up the belief and managing the level of confidence. Not forgetting that there’s a goal going into Tokyo, but the most important thing is to enjoy the Games.”
Kgothatso is the first African wheelchair tennis player to have qualified for all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year, in 2018. She has never progressed past the second round in her previous Paralympic experiences.
She reached her first grand slam final this year after losing five previous semi-finals at the Australian, French and US Opens.
It’s all in the mind
Montjane, who has been playing since she was 19, believes that she needs to focus on the psychological side of her game before the Paralympics begin on 24 August 2021. She believes that getting her mental and physical game at the same level – will help her get even closer to a medal.
Kgothatso is now ranked fifth in the word, a career high. “We play on a hard court and that’s the surface I love the most. I just need to keep believing more – it’s all in the head because I’d like to think that physically my game is there. I need to push harder mentally and find all those pieces I’m looking for on court, keep believing I can do it because I create opportunities, but sometimes I don’t get to convert them.”
Will reaching the Wimbledon finals be the confidence booster that Montjane needs in Tokyo? We certainly think so!