Johannesburg - Miss World 2014 Rolene Strauss on Saturday called on South Africans to support her through her tenure.
"Please come on this journey with me. I will be walking in front but I ask you, be behind me," she told the crowds gathered at OR Tambo International Airport to welcome her home.
"Many might think since I'm Miss World, I have made it - but it's a journey."
Strauss, of Volksrust in Mpumalanga, was crowned Miss World 2014 in London on 14 December.
A very emotional Strauss thanked South Africans for coming out in their numbers to welcome her.
"I have no words to describe how I'm feeling right now," the Free State University medical student said.
Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula also spoke at the welcoming ceremony, saying Strauss would make the country - and the late Nelson Mandela -very proud.
"Nelson Mandela is smiling on us for his idea of a united nation, a rainbow is alive," he said.
Strauss walked around after her speech and signed autographs for the crowd.
Earlier, the crowd cheered, whistled and ululated as Strauss walked out of the arrivals terminal.
Dressed in a blue and white floral print dress - that matched her pageant crown and sash - she waved to the crowd and smiled broadly as photographers snapped away.
Placards were held up by her fans, including one that read: "Marry me Rolene".
The last time a South African won the title was in 1974 when Anneline Kriel was crowned Miss World.
Before her, Penny Coelen-Rey, was, in 1958, the first South African to be lauded as the most beautiful woman in the world by the pageant judges at the time.
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