Snooker’s top ladies player Reanne Evans has been awarded a place in the qualifying rounds of this year’s World Championship.
Evans, who has won the World Ladies Championship for the past ten consecutive years, will take a place in the sport’s biggest event at Ponds Forge International Centre in Sheffield in April. She will need to win three qualifying matches to reach the televised stages at the Crucible Theatre.
Evans, age 29 from Dudley, made history last season as the first woman to compete in the final stages of a world ranking event. She beat Thepchaiya Un-Nooh to qualify for the Wuxi Classic in China, where she lost to Zhu Yinghui.
The award of a World Championship place to Evans follows a change in structure to the qualifying rounds of the tournament. All players seeded outside the top 16 will start in the same round, with a total of 128 players competing in the qualifiers. This has opened up extra places, which will be given to any former World Champions who wish to enter, plus leading amateur players at the discretion of snooker’s governing body, the WPBSA.
Jason Ferguson, Chairman of the WPBSA, said: “Reanne’s achievements in the ladies game are incredible – to win ten world titles in a row in any sport is a phenomenal record. She is a true sporting great and proved her ability to compete on the open professional tour when she reached the final stages of the Wuxi Classic in China. She deserves the chance to play in the World Championship and she will be aiming to become the first woman ever to play in the main event at the Crucible. Reanne is a trail-blazer for female players around the world.
“The WPBSA has successfully developed several initiatives to get more women involved in snooker. At grass roots level, our Cue Zone Into Schools programme has been rolled out to 36 schools across England, encouraging girls and boys to play the sport.
“We are working with Ladies Snooker to bring their events under our governance where we can provide sound sports development. World Ladies already has over 40 players on their official World Ranking list and it is our vision to use this as a starting point to see ladies snooker grow.
“We also have Ladies Day during the World Championship, offering free coaching and raising awareness on how to get involved. Snooker is one of the most accessible sports in the world. Regardless of age or gender, there are plenty of opportunities to play at the top level or to develop careers in refereeing or coaching.”
Mandy Fisher, Chairperson of World Ladies Snooker, added: “We are delighted to be working alongside the WPBSA and appreciate their efforts to help develop our tour. And I’m very pleased to see Reanne given the chance to play in the World Championship, she is an outstanding player and worthy of the opportunity.”