Mark Williams blasts “appalling” treatment after commencing world title defence

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Williams gestures to his family in the crowd (credit:Nigel French/PA Images)

Mark Williams has blasted the treatment he has received from World Snooker in the build-up to the World Championship as “appalling” and admits he has “had enough”.

The Welshman began the defence of his Betfred World Championship title with a 10-7 victory over Martin Gould at The Crucible on Saturday and pulled no punches on the tournament organisers in a frank post-match interview.

Williams, who reclaimed the world title after a 15-year wait last May, believes he has been deliberately been kept out of the limelight in the build-up to the event after posting images on social media showing him placed in the background of promotional branding inside the venue.

He was also outraged that his son was denied access to his dressing room by tournament officials prior to Saturday’s match.

Williams told Eurosport: “I’ve had enough of World Snooker to be honest.

“The way I feel I’ve been treated for 12 months is just appalling in my opinion and today just rounded it off.

“My boy came in and apparently they wouldn’t let him in with a pass because I’d already used two passes.

“My missus just said to them ‘can he just run in to the changing room to wish him best of luck and give him a high five?’ and they refused and just left him outside.

“So I had to come out, walk over to the Betfred lounge and see him over there before I went out. It’s just unbelievable.

“They all know what’s been going on.

“If the next World Champion gets treated the same way as me then I feel sorry for them.

“I’m not even going to bother asking anymore.”

A spokesman for World Snooker denied that Williams’ son had been denied entry to the dressing room, but stated the player had opted to give his two allotted passes to his coach and his friend.

The spokesman said: “Every player in the event is allocated two backstage passes. And they can make their own decisions who to give those to. At no point were his children refused entry.”

Williams avoided an early exit on the opening day of the sport’s show-piece in Sheffield as he fended off a late fightback from Gould to become the first man through to the Last 16.

The 44-year-old lost the opening frame after a break of 64 from Gould but went on to establish a commanding 6-3 lead at the interval with breaks of 129 and 97 along the way.

Williams took the tenth frame to extend his lead, and after Gould replied with a 59 break in the next, the defending champion made a 70 and a 69 break to clinch successive frames and move within one of the winning line at 9-4.

Gould, however, hit back with a run of three straight frames to pile on the pressure, making breaks of 70, 87 and 76, but Williams held his nerve to get over the line in frame 17.

On the performance, Williams commented: “I think I played okay in the first session, it got a bit edgy towards the end but I just managed to scrape over the line, but overall I played well.”

He will now face the winner of the clash between David Gilbert and Joe Perry in the Last 16 on Friday.