Williams sisters inspire local stars

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Wheelchair tennis champions Evans Maripa and Kgothatso Montjane get ready to warm up for tomorrows curtain-raiser before the exhibition match at the Ellis Park Arena by US tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams.

Kgothatso Montjane grew up watching American tennis superstars Serena and Venus Williams on television.

In fact, it was tennis stars like the Williams sisters who inspired Montjane to take up tennis from a young age.

Tomorrow, Montjane, South Africa’s female wheelchair tennis champion, will play arguably the biggest match of her career.Montjane and her wheelchair tennis partner Evans Maripa will play against each other in a curtain-raiser game before Serena and Venus Williams’s match.Aside from the exhibition tennis match the Williams sisters will play on Sunday at Joburg’s Ellis Park Arena, the two will also launch the Breaking the Mould campaign and attend a gala dinner at Montecasino.

Montjane, from Limpopo, said the nerves had kicked in ahead of her game tomorrow.

“I’m used to playing in front of big crowds so that’s not the issue. However, I feel crazy nervous about playing in front of the Williams sisters,” she said.

The fact that the Williams sisters will be in the stands watching her will make it the biggest tennis match of her career, says Montjane.

“Its going to be the best moment in my life,” said a cheerful Montjane.

“It was a privilege to compete at the Paralympics and it was an amazing feeling to reach number one in female wheelchair tennis, but to play in front of the Williams sisters beats all.”

It’s a moment that Montjane says she will savour forever.

“I just hope that I hit the ball properly,” she laughed.

“I really want to impress the Williams sisters so I have to be on my A game.”

Montjane will come up against her team mate Maripa in the curtain raiser. Maripa is just as excited to meet the Williams sisters.

“I can’t wait to sit down and chat with them,” said Maripa.

“I hope I get the chance to ask the Williams sisters a few questions. I’m interested in finding out how it feels to be such a famous tennis star.”

Montjane says she, too, is extremely nervous about playing tomorrow.

“I have never played in front of such famous tennis players so I am a bag of nerves,” added Maripa.

“I have had sleepless nights ever since I heard that I would be playing in front of the Williams sisters.”

After tomorrow’s match, Maripa will have to turn his attention to his books quickly as he begins exams at the University of Johannesburg.

But, for now, his sole focus is on impressing the Williams sisters.

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