Kgothatso (KG) Montjane was the first black female South African to compete in the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament in the UK. Apart from receiving a small donation from the Women’s Development Bank (WDB), she had to pay her own way to get there – and then performed astoundingly well, making it to the semi-finals.
Ranked sixth in the world by the end of the tournament, Montjane qualified for the US Open, one of the tennis world’s Grand Slams. A lack of funding nearly prevented her from getting her there to participate in the prestigious tournament, but a number of companies recognised her potential and came together to help. Within two weeks, 10 sponsors raised close to R1,5 million for the wheelchair tennis star.
Key to her ability to raise money through sponsorship was repositioning herself as a brand. When she returned from the UK, Optimize Agency assisted her in obtaining sponsorships.
Read more about Kgothatso Montjane’s journey at Wimbledon
Emy Casaletti, Optimize Agency CEO, notes: “We understood KG to be a champion, but we needed to make her into a revenue-generating brand. Consequently, a professional sponsorship presentation was devised, and a personalised logo was designed for her, together with her own website and business cards.” Montjane now has her own logo and website.
The amount of the sponsorships varies from R10 000 to R150 000, all of which will go towards covering costs of her flights, accommodation, entry fees, ground transport and meals for the remainder of 2018 and 2019. The sponsored contributions include an Audi vehicle, prostheses and access to training facilities.
On August 22, Wheelchair Tennis South Africa (WTSA), along with the sponsors, gathered in Rosebank, Gauteng, for Montjane’s send-off. Sponsors include: Makole Group; WDB Investment Holdings; ASPEN Pharmaceuticals; Lotto Sport; Banareng office supplies; Casaletti Inc Attorneys; HPC Centre /TUKS University; Audi & Volkswagen Polokwane; a travel agent (who wishes to remain anonymous); and Ottobock.
Read more about Kgothatso Montjane qualifying for the US Open
With these sponsorships, Montjane can focus on her performance at the UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour instead of worrying about her next meal. She will participate in the US Open Grand Slam from September 6 to 9 in New York. At the time of publication, she is participating in the US Open Super Series (August 28 to September 2).
Also cheering her on at the send-off were former first lady and founder of WDB Zanele Mbeki, Montjane’s school teacher, who inspired her to start playing wheelchair tennis, and her current coach.
On Tuesday, Montjane faced off against Charlotte Famin in St Louis for a place in the last eight at the US Open USTA Championships, the sixth and last Super Series event on the 2018 UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour. Montjane said: “You always have to make sure you are on top of your game going into every match at this level of competition.
“This tournament is very important as preparation for the US Open. I know in big events like this you will not have an easy opponent, so you have to play your best, as you will face the best players. You need to be ready for it.”
If she advances, the Limpopo-born star could find herself up against second-seeded Roland Garros (French Open) champion and world number two, Yui Kamiji. When asked about how she felt about the possibility of facing Kamiji in the quarter-final, she had this to say: “It is always a big test going up against any of the top 10 players. I know it won’t be easy playing Kamiji if I make it to the last eight. She is one of the most consistent and talented players on tour. You know that you can’t win against her if you don’t play your best. However, I am a competitor and I always enjoy challenges, so I will be looking forward to this one too,” said Montjane.
Participation in this tournament was made possible by generous funding from Makole Group – which is a South African, 100 percent black-owned infrastructure, property development and mining group.