Williams vows 'naked cartwheels' if he retains title

AFP
Newly crowned world champion Mark Williams has vowed to perform naked cartwheels if he repeats his stunning triumph next year.
AFP

Newly crowned world 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 in Sheffield.

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 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 he felt, he 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 7-14 down 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 1 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 won 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.”


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