Grace Williams

Date and place of Birth: 25/04/03, Wrexham
Home town: Llanfyllin
Currently lives: Sheffield
Family: Mum, dad and sister
Occupation: Student
TT Class: 8
Current world ranking: 17
International debut: Dutch Open 2019

Major titles: World doubles champion 2022

Grace’s story

Grace first started playing table tennis at the age of 12 during a disability sports day. Although not previously interested in sport she fell in love with table tennis and from playing once a week at her local club in Wrexham she graduated to the BPTT Pathway Squad in 2019, making her international debut in the Dutch Open that same year.

“Sport hadn’t appealed to me before,” she explained, “probably because when I was in primary school and year seven it was always netball, and I couldn’t throw a ball as well as everyone else and so I felt like an outsider. With table tennis I felt that I could do it and if I worked hard I could get better.”

In September 2021 Williams moved to Sheffield where she now combines studying nutrition at university with training with the BPTT Performance Squad at the EIS.

“I’ve definitely grown as a player and a person since I moved to Sheffield,” she said. “I’ve learned different aspects of my game and ways to help my game. I’ve also learned how to balance life – training, social life and university.

“Training with the squad gives me motivation because when I watch Ross (Wilson) or Will (Bayley) or Fliss (Pickard) it helps me in that situation because I want to be where they are. To see how they conduct themselves in training and in tournaments it just shows me how I can conduct myself and how to train. They put 110% effort into every training session and that motivates me to do the same.”

In May 2022 Grace was promoted from Pathway to Confirmation, the transition programme between Pathway to Performance, and was selected to represent Team Wales in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Awarded a wild card to compete in the World Championships in Andalucia she exceeded all expectations by taking gold in the women’s class 14 doubles with Fliss Pickard, the pair combining to beat the class 6 World number six Morgen Caillaud and class 8 former World and Paralympic champion and reigning European champion Thu Kamkasomphou from France in the semi-final and the hugely experienced German pair of class 6 World number two and Tokyo bronze medallist Stephanie Grebe and class 8 World number three Juliane Wolf in the final.

“Coming to the Worlds as a wild card I kind of expected to come for the experience,” she said, “and learn what to do in matches - what to do on the table and off the table and see what everyone else is doing. But the fact that I’m here and I’ve got a gold medal is just surreal and I can’t believe it.”

Although in the early stages of her career Williams has no doubt where she wants to go.

“I’m at the start of my career but I’d love to go to a Paralympic Games – whether that is Paris or Los Angeles - and I’d love to medal. I want to win gold and that is my end goal, but I also want to go to the Commonwealths and the Worlds and all the major tournaments.

“When I started playing table tennis I just thought it would be something fun to do with my family. I was 12 years old and playing once a week at a small club and I never thought I would get to this stage where I could dream of going to a Paralympic Games.”

Take 5 with Grace

Person who has influenced you most - my parents because they’ve supported me throughout everything that I’ve wanted to do, and they’ve given me confidence that anything is possible

Three famous people (alive or dead) you would most like to have a drink with - Blake Lively, Tom Holland and Michelle Obama

Three words that describe you best - organised, determined and caring

Favourite film: Dirty Dancing

If you had to appear in a reality TV programme which one would it be: I’m a Celebrity

And finally – the place in the world Grace would most like to visit is Cyprus “because that’s where my parents met, and I’d love to see where they were first introduced”

2022 Results

World Championships, Spain – QF, women’s singles (class 8); gold, women’s doubles (class 14); QF, mixed doubles (class 18)

Greek Open – group stages, women’s singles (class 8); silver, women’s doubles (class 14); group stages, mixed doubles (class 17)

Finland Open – group stages, women’s singles (class 8); silver, women’s doubles (class 20); bronze, mixed doubles (class 17)

Commonwealth Games, Birmingham – group stages, women’s singles (class 6-10)

European Para Youth Games – group stages, women’s singles (class 6-10); bronze, women’s teams (class 6-10)

Montenegro Para Championships – bronze, women’s singles (class 7-9); 4th women’s doubles RR (WD14-20); 3rd mixed doubles RR (XD17-20)

Slovenia Open – group stages, women’s singles (class 8); group stages, women’s doubles (class WD14); group stages, mixed doubles (class XD17)

French Para Open – group stages, women’s singles (class 8); bronze, women’s doubles (class WD20)

Egypt Open – 4th place, women’s singles RR (class 7-8); 3rd place, women’s doubles RR (class WD20); 2nd place, mixed doubles RR (class MX17)

Costa Brava Spanish Open – QF, women’s singles (class 7-8); bronze, women’s doubles (class WD14); QF, mixed doubles (class MX17)

2021 Results

Copa Costa Rica – group stages, women’s singles (class 8-10); 2nd, women’s teams RR (class 8-10)

French Para Open – group stages, women’s singles (class 7-8); group stages, women’s teams (class 7-10)

Costa Brava Spanish Open – group stages, women’s singles (class 7-10); group stages, women’s teams (class 6-10)

2019 Results

Dutch Open – group stages, women’s singles (class 8); bronze, women’s teams (class 9-10)

Career Highlights

2022  World Championships, Spain – QF, women’s singles (class 8); gold, women’s doubles (class 14)

Greek Open – silver, women’s doubles (class 14)

Finland Open – silver, women’s doubles (class 20); bronze, mixed doubles (class 17)

European Para Youth Games – bronze, women’s teams (class 6-10)

Montenegro Para Championships – bronze, women’s singles (class 7-9)

French Para Open - bronze, women’s doubles (class WD20)

Costa Brava Spanish Open - bronze, women’s doubles (class WD14)

2019 Dutch Open - bronze, women’s teams (class 9-10)

Further results are available at http://stats.ipttc.org/en/profiles/6378/tournaments