I’ll cartwheel naked next year: Champion Williams makes another vow to strip off

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Mark Williams vowed to perform naked cartwheels if he repeats his stunning Betfred World Championship triumph next year – after stripping off in celebration of his victory on Monday night.

The man nicknamed the Welsh Potting Machine withstood an incredible fightback from John Higgins to land his third Crucible title, a full 15 years after his second.

The 18-16 success made him the oldest winner at the Crucible since 45-year-old Ray Reardon in 1978 and Williams fulfilled a promise to hold his press conference naked – although he wore a towel to protect his modesty.

He made the suggestion as a joke early in the tournament, the 43-year-old hardly believing he would carry off the silverware.

Mark Williams removed his clothes
Mark Williams removed his clothes (Richard Sellers/PA)

Asked how his success felt, Williams said: “It feels a little bit uncomfortable at the minute. I had to wear the towel on the orders of Barry Hearn otherwise I would just have walked in, just crying.

“It’s an unbelievable story. Twelve months ago I was thinking about chucking it, and here I am doing an interview having won the 2018 World Championship, naked.

“If I won this again next year, I’d do this again – I’d cartwheel round here naked.

“I’m going to party the night away. Last time I won it I think I had half a pint of milk and went to bed. I’m not going to bed this time – it’ll be daylight before I get to bed.”

Hearn, chairman of World Snooker, stood beaming at the back of the room.

Higgins had roared back from 14-7 behind to level at 15-15, feasting on mistakes from his opponent, putting the Scot seemingly on the march to glory and Williams in turmoil.

Back came Williams, nudging ahead before making a century break to move one frame away from victory.

But at the moment he first stood on the brink of winning, Williams twitched, missing a pink that was match ball. Higgins had not expected another chance but came back to the table and cleared up, vintage snooker from the four-time champion.

Williams needed another opportunity and gave himself one early in the next frame. This time Williams made no mistake, a break of 69 leaving Higgins needing three snookers. Higgins was beaten, but he had played his part in one of the greatest Crucible finals.

2018 Betfred Snooker World Championships – Day Seventeen – The Crucible
Williams with the trophy after winning the world championship (Richard Sellers/PA)

Williams, who failed to even qualify for last year’s World Championship, said of his family: “I’m sure they’ve enjoyed it. My missus couldn’t stop crying for ages, I got a little bit emotional towards the end as well. I thought these days had all passed to be honest.”

Williams was “away in my caravan, getting drunk and watching it on TV” when his fellow cuemen contested the 2017 tournament. No wonder he had a big night planned this time.

Defeated Higgins said: “Obviously I am disappointed but it was great to play in such an occasion in front of this crowd, and Mark is a brilliant champion.”

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