Seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry is set for a remarkable return to competitive snooker after accepting a two-year invitational Tour Card.
Hendry, 51, retired from the sport in 2012 after a glittering career which saw him dominate snooker in the 90s, gaining the nickname ‘The King of The Crucible.’
He made a spectacular maximum break in his last World Championship en route to the Quarter-Finals before bowing out whilst still established among the sport’s elite.
Since then, he has featured on the World Seniors circuit, most recently at The Crucible last month, and has primarily worked as a television pundit for ITV and the BBC during major tournaments.
After eight years away, the legendary Scotsman has made a stunning U-turn, accepting WST Chairman Barry Hearn’s offer of a wildcard that will keep him on the main tour for at least the next two years.
He joins fellow icons Jimmy White, Ken Doherty and James Wattana in being awarded an invitational tour card and will accrue ranking prize money as per all other players on the circuit.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to enter some tournaments over the coming two seasons,” said Hendry, who has recently been working alongside Sightright coach Steve Feeney in a bid to fine-tune his game.
“I’ve really enjoyed picking up my cue again recently at the World Seniors and after some SightRight coaching I feel a little more confident in my game.
“I’ve always missed the buzz of competing and although I have no expectations in terms of performance, this felt like a good time to explore getting back to the table.”
Hendry holds the record of seven world titles, but saw his previous record of 36 career ranking titles eclipsed by Ronnie O’Sullivan at the World Championship a fortnight ago.
Hendry topped the world rankings for eight consecutive years between 1990 and 1998 and last appeared in a world final in 2002, losing out to Peter Ebdon.
His most recent ranking title came at the 2005 Malta Cup and his total career prize money has tallied almost £9 million.
Hendry was awarded an MBE in 1994 and was voted BBC Scotland’s Sports Personality of the Year in 1987 and 1996.
The first tournament Hendry will be eligible to play in will be the European Masters, which runs from September 21-27.
WST Chairman Barry Hearn said: “I am thrilled that Stephen has decided to return to the tour.
“He is a giant of the sport and I know that all eyes will be on him every time he takes to the table in the coming months.
“It’s great to know that Stephen’s competitive fires are still burning and given his extraordinary achievements, it was a no brainer to offer him the opportunity to come back.
“I wish Stephen all the very best for the two seasons ahead.”
August 16 – Ronnie O'Sullivan wins a sixth world title 🚀
August 22 – Jimmy White wins the World Seniors title 🌬️
September 1 – Stephen Hendry announces his comeback 👀👑 pic.twitter.com/V2EUEgWxKP
— Live Snooker (@Livesnooker) September 1, 2020