Reanne Evans says it was a “shock” to her. And after everything you’ve gone through in the game of snooker, you can believe it without reservation.
Evans, 35, is the world’s most successful snooker player, a twelve-time world champion (most recently in 2019) who has unbeaten 90 consecutive matches, that’s how Evans sometimes plays. However, she can hardly make a living from her sport, there are no female professionals yet, and the players still have a regular job to finance the tour for travel. Men attract attention: as professionals, they travel around the world, Asia, Great Britain and back again, if not widespread. It’s about decent cash prizes, TV broadcasts, ad contracts – all that brings in income.
When the annual World Women’s Championships takes place, hardly anyone notices it. Instead, Ladies’ Day is sponsored at the Men’s World Cup.
“I’ve always wanted that to happen,” Evans says.
Evans had given her snooker life off the radar – but now “the shock.” In a move delayed for many years, the World Assembly decided to give women two places to start the main tour in the future. Like English woman Evans, Ng Un Yi, 30, from Hong Kong also qualifies and can compete with the best men over the next two years.
Only two out of 128 starting points, that’s not much, you might say. Evans remains confused. “I always wanted that to happen,” she told the newspaper. Metro“Players like me have one last goal. We can become professionals.” The head of the women’s tour, Mandy Fischer, spoke of “a great moment. We are witnessing the most important days in our history.”
Why women long ago stopped playing as equals at snooker is a question that can only be answered with bleak answers. For a long time, the self-proclaimed “men’s sport” was a men’s-only club in which women were avoided: not only in bars, but also in the federation that represented only male players. World Snooker Women has existed for 40 years, but it wasn’t recognized by WPBSA until 2015. WPBSA President Jason Ferguson said the fact that women are now officially playing in the main round is “one of the best decisions.” We have taken it at all. “
Evans thinks it’s especially important to get a regular starting position this time, not a wildcard. When she was allowed to play in 2010 due to her dominance, with a guest ticket, it was considered a playful gesture. The transition was very difficult for Evans at the time, and she did not win a single match and said goodbye again. But the time for the big differences in quality is over: the Women’s Tour has recently been greatly upgraded; Evans also measures herself against men more often in other championship formats, and last year world champion Sean Murphy was on the brink of defeat.
However, some do not like to acknowledge the Women’s Tour as an official qualification path. The level there is much lower than it was at Q-School, some male players have complained about online, especially on Twitter. Q-School is an important qualifying tournament in which the latest free tickets have been played. Continental Champions and Young Champions also get places in the main tour. And now also two of the best women.
Evans was not entirely successful in understanding the critics’ arguments. You ask, “Why don’t people see the big picture?” It’s not about wanting to prove something: Evans wants to play regularly, regardless of whether that is ultimately enough of success. And helping that snooker finally become a contemporary sport.
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