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Mark Williams vows he will never retire from snooker after lockdown re-think

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Welsh legend Mark Williams in action (credit:World Snooker)

Mark Williams in action (Photo credit: World Snooker)

Mark Williams says lock-down forced him to abandon any retirement plans from snooker and has vowed that he will play on for as long as possible.

The three-time World champion made a winning start at the World Snooker Championship on Saturday as he recovered from 5-3 down to beat Alan McManus 10-5 in the opening round.

It was Williams’ first competitive action since reaching the Gibraltar Open semi-finals in mid-March, before the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic forced the UK into lockdown and resulted in the postponement of the World Snooker tour.

The Welshman maintained his sharpness during the enforced break from competitive play with regular practice sessions alongside compatriot Lee Walker.

Prior to lockdown, the 45-year-old endured a fairly low-key 2019-20 season, with that run in Gibraltar one of only two occasions that he progressed beyond the last 16 of any ranking event.

Williams, who also reached the China Championship final, raised question marks over his future in the sport earlier in the campaign, hinting that he will retire at the conclusion of the World Championship following defeats at the English Open and Masters.

However, the 22-time ranking event winner insists that four months away from the tour were enough to convince him to decide against ending his 28-year professional career.

“During lock-down, I made my mind up that I’m never retiring from snooker; I’m going to play until I drop off the tour,” Williams told Eurosport.

“Obviously, it was difficult for everyone. It was a lot better when the golf courses opened up, but I’ve never watched so many TV series in my life!

“I’ve been practising a lot over the past few months. I’ve been in the club every day with Lee (Walker), playing from nine until four some days and even sneaking in the odd best-of-seven.

“I’m just going to enjoy it. If I never win another tournament, I can’t argue with what I’ve already done.

“I’m going to keep trying in every tournament and see how long I can stay on the tour.

“It will be interesting to see where I am in five years’ time. Hopefully, I can be 50 and still on the tour.”

World number three Williams is back in action at the Crucible on Wednesday, when he locks horns with 2015 Crucible king Stuart Bingham in round two.