South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane narrowly missed out on Roland Garros wheelchair doubles glory with Yui Kamiji, but will be back with former doubles partner Lucy Shuker for Wimbledon.
Montjane and Japan’s Kamiji lost the French Open women’s final 7-6, 1-6, [10-8] to Dutch duo Diede de Groot and Aniek van Koot. They plan to reunite for the US Open, but Montjane will honor her commitment to play with Britain’s Shuker at Wimbledon, having lost the final with her there last year to Kamiji and Britain’s Jordanne Whiley.
Montjane, who was the first Black African woman to play at Wimbledon when she first competed there in 2018, told ESPN: “I’ll be playing with Lucy Shuker again. I played with her last year.
“After last year with her, we could have done better, so we’d love to try it again on grass and see how it goes. I think we are a very strong pair and looking at how we played on grass last year, I think it makes us title contenders.
“I think we are very strong on grass considering our game style, so that’s why we wanted to do it again — we both believe that we stand a chance to actually win the title on that surface. That’s the main reason why we actually wanted to play together again at Wimbledon.”
Montjane, who also lost last year’s singles final to De Groot, expects all the top players to compete at SW19 despite the ITF’s decision to strip Wimbledon of tour rankings points due to the expulsions of Russian and Belarusian players.
The Paralympian added: “I’m just going to go to Wimbledon and try to do the best that I can because it’s Wimbledon — just to try to play for the tradition of the tournament — but it’s a bummer that there’s so much to be lost.
“Those 500 points are carrying my entire ranking at the moment, so it’s a tough one. I feel like most players are not taking it well, but most of us are going to play because we want to honor the tradition of the tournament.”
Montjane also reached the Australian Open doubles final this year, with Shuker, where they again lost to De Groot and Van Koot.
Montjane, who is the world’s fourth-ranked women’s wheelchair singles player, admits that there is a clear gap between the top three — De Groot, Kamiji and Van Koot — and herself. In order to close it, she believes she needs more consistency and aggression.
“Going from a middle-field player to the top, the transition is difficult, but I do understand what I have to really bring to the table, because the more I get better, the harder it gets,” she said.
“Consistency, becoming more aggressive — that’s the type of game I need at the top, considering the top three, how they play. For me to be able to match them, I need to make sure that I’m more consistent and aggressive , because they move well.
After Wimbledon, Montjane will re-join Kamiji as they make a push for the US Open title: “We will be exploring more of our partnership, because at the moment, she doesn’t have a partner.
I’ve just been playing with her… We spoke about it and said: ‘Let’s try and see how it works.’ We’re both left-handed, so we didn’t know how it was going to work.
“[At the] US Open, surely, we’re going to play together. We’re just going to keep trying on all surfaces. It’s just unfortunate that with Wimbledon, we had already spoken to other people because we were not sure if the clay season would go well for us.”