Over the weekend, the dynamic duo of South African paralympians, Kgothatso Montjane and Donald Ramphadi, emerged victorious in their respective events at the prestigious French Open, also referred to as the illustrious Roland-Garros.

By Staff Reporter

Donald Ramphadi and Kgothatso Montjane, both wheelchair tennis athletes, have brought a sense of pride to South Africans with their recent victories as Grand Slam champions in their respective divisions at the prestigious Roland Garros tournament in Paris.

Ramphadi was declared the winner of the quads title, while Montjane emerged victorious in the women’s doubles category.

“Tennis South Africa proudly celebrates the remarkable achievements of its wheelchair tennis athletes, Donald Ramphadi and Kgothatso Montjane, who have emerged as Grand Slam champions in their respective divisions at the prestigious Roland Garros tournament. This momentous occasion took place in Paris on Saturday, as Ramphadi claimed the quads title and Montjane clinched victory in the women’s doubles category.”

Ramphadi, an unseeded player, and his British partner Andy Lapthorne emerged victorious in the men’s quad doubles final at the French Open championship. The team successfully achieved consecutive victories against the two highest-seeded teams, which can be considered remarkable upsets.

On Saturday, the top seeds, Australian Heath Davidson and Canada’s Robert Shaw were defeated in the final by the team who had eliminated the second seeds just 24 hours prior. The final score was 1-6 6-2 (10-3).

Ramphadi’s achievement in winning the Grand Slam was particularly noteworthy, given that it coincided with his 30th birthday celebration.

“It’s a special day for me, today also being my birthday, to win my first Grand Slam. It’s a day I’ll never forget. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but people are sending in messages, which shows the support, and that people are watching,” said Ramphadi on Saturday.

By clinching this victory, Ramphadi has etched his name in the annals of history, as he has become the first South African male, both able-bodied and wheelchair,  to win a French Open championship since Piet Norval (mixed doubles) in 1999 and David Adams (mixed doubles) in 2000.

About this impressive achievement, Ramphadi said: “It is truly amazing to hear that I am the first South African in 42 years to win the French Open. Coming from a challenging background, I am proud to serve as an example to young children in underprivileged circumstances, showing them that anything is possible when you envision it.”

In another remarkable feat for South African tennis, Kgothatso Montjane, the nation’s top female player, ascended to the prestigious Roland Garros podium alongside Ramphadi. Montjane, who had previously made it to six doubles finals at Grand Slam events from 2019 to 2022, including the Australian Open, US Open, Wimbledon, and Roland Garros, has, at last, clinched her much-deserved Grand Slam championship title.

Montjane and teammate Yui Kamiji from Japan demonstrated their prowess by winning the women’s doubles championship with a remarkable score of 6-2, 6-3 against Diede de Groot and Maria Moreno.

“It is such a great feeling and moment for me. I am really happy that I managed to win my first Grand Slam, even though it’s doubles. But it’s a moment worth living for. I have been fortunate to play both singles and doubles, so it’s an exciting time for me, and I will keep fighting for the singles title that I have been waiting for,” said Montjane.

This victory is particularly meaningful for Montjane because it served as a retaliation for her and Kamiji’s loss to De Groot and Aniek van Koot in the doubles final at Roland Garros in 2022.

In addition, Montjane’s impressive accomplishment makes her the first South African woman to secure a French Open championship since Tanya Harford and Ros Fairbank (in doubles) and Mariaan de Swart (in mixed doubles) in 1981 and 2000, respectively.

“I am just grateful for the team that I have behind me because if it wasn’t for them, I don’t know how I would have bounced back from a career-threatening injury, and yet today I am here talking about a doubles Grand Slam,” said Montjane.

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