Special Olympics champ taking strong forehand to world stage in tennis

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Don't think of these athletes as being disabled. Special Olympics tennis players carry the same love for the game as anyone else, and golden moments continue to add up for one of the metro's best baseline bangers.

When 40-year old Bobby Williams is on the tennis court, other competitors take notice. The Independence native is a former Missouri Special Olympics champion.

With a forehand that makes other players look helpless, Williams has been nailing it over the nets for 12 years. In that time, he's won three gold medals from his two appearances in the United States Special Olympics.

To see his game, you'd barely notice he lives with an intellectual disability. This summer, Williams will meet the game's best when he competes in the Special Olympics World Summer Games.

“I seem to like to play. I have fun hittin'. My favorite part is I like forehands and serves and play out points,” he told FOX 4’s Sean McDowell.

Steve Winship has been Bobby's coach the entire time he's played, and has helped this unique  athlete develop into a solid player.

“He can compete with anyone. Any of the high school kids; it's neat to bring him out and let him hit with other people his age and yet see the competition kick in, and see the ability to the point that he's just one of the bunch,” Winship said.

Bobby's next bounce will be his biggest yet. Williams has risen to the national stage on two other occasions, but now says he's ready to take on the world's best special needs tennis players. He's thankful to Special Olympics for giving athletes like him a chance to play.

“I look forward to playing them and having fun playing. I'm grateful I just get to play tennis. I get to have fun and all that,” he said.

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