Stephen Hendry to accept second tour wildcard despite ‘disappointment’ over snooker legend’s playing schedule

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Seven-time world champion Hendry, 53, announced a remarkable comeback in 2020 eight years after his retirement
Seven-time world champion Hendry, 53, announced a remarkable comeback in 2020 eight years after his retirement

By Ben Parsons at the Crucible

Snooker legend Stephen Hendry is set to extend his illustrious career by accepting an additional two-year invitational tour card from the sport’s governing bodies.

Seven-time world champion Hendry announced a remarkable comeback in 2020 eight years after his retirement, motivated by making an emotional return to the Crucible.

Hendry’s announcement generated plenty of excitement in snooker spheres, but the Scot’s return to the professional game has fallen flat.

The 53-year-old turned down a chance at playing in the latest Sheffield showpiece after choosing not to enter World Championship qualifying.

And his overall participation on tour since being granted playing rights has been limited at best, with just three victories to his name in 11 matches.

However, World Snooker chief executive Steve Dawson announced on Tuesday that ‘King of the Crucible’ Hendry and 1997 world champion Ken Doherty have both indicated they will accept new tour cards.

“We are going to extend the wildcard for Stephen Hendry and are going to give a wildcard to Ken Doherty for next season,” Dawson said in an annual press conference.

“They are tremendous assets to the game.

“There is no hiding from the fact we are disappointed that (Hendry) didn’t play more tournaments but we have talked to him and he has his reasoning for that - so who are we to judge?

“We hope he is going to play in every event because of his legendary status but it’s down to him. We’ll look at the situation again in a couple of years.”

Upon his return, Hendry linked up with Sight Right founder Stephen Feeney, the coach who had transformed the game of Mark Williams and helped the Welshman secure a third world crown in 2018.

But he has since admitted to a lack of hours on the practice table and did not feel his game was at the competitive standard required to enter the 45th edition of snooker's blue-riband event.

“Once we’d spoken to Stephen it wasn’t a hard decision,” Dawson added.

"He had his reasons for the way he’s entered tournaments and it’s consistent with offering stars like Jimmy White multiple opportunities."

Hendry’s most significant result since his comeback was a 6-3 victory over old rival White in last year’s world qualifying, the player he famously defeated in four Crucible finals.

White, 59, continues to enter most of the events that he is invited to and it is hoped that Hendry will follow in the footsteps of the ‘Whirlwind’ in the upcoming seasons.

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