Sheffield (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Newly crowned world snooker champion Mark Williams has vowed to perform naked cartwheels if he repeats his stunning triumph next year — after stripping off in celebration of his nailbiting victory.
Williams, 43, withstood a stirring fightback from John Higgins to land his third Crucible title on Monday, 15 years after his second.
The 18-16 success made him the oldest winner of the tournament since 45-year-old Ray Reardon in 1978 and Williams fulfilled a promise to hold his press conference naked — although he wore a towel to protect his modesty.
Williams, who made the suggestion as a joke earlier in the tournament, was roared into the media room and said: “Cold in here, isn’t it!”
Asked how his success felt, the Welshman said: “It feels a little bit uncomfortable at the minute. I had to wear the towel on the orders of Barry Hearn (chairman of World Snooker) otherwise I would just have walked in, just crying.
“It’s an unbelievable story. Twelve months ago I was thinking about chucking it, and here I am doing an interview having won the 2018 World Championship, naked.
“If I won this again next year, I’d do this again — I’d cartwheel round here naked.”
Scotland’s Higgins had battled back from 14-7 behind to level at 15-15, making the most of his opponent’s mistakes before Williams nudged ahead and then made a century break to move one frame away from victory.
But Williams faltered, missing a pink that was match ball. Four-time champion Higgins had not expected another chance but came back to the table and cleared up.
The Welshman, however, held his nerve in the next frame, a break of 69 taking him over the line.
The champion’s young sons witnessed the drama — having not been born when he previously triumphed in 2000 and 2003.
The player, who failed to even qualify for last year’s World Championship, said of his family: “I’m sure they’ve enjoyed it. My missus couldn’t stop crying for ages. I got a little bit emotional towards the end as well. I thought these days had all passed to be honest.”