Ken Doherty has called on World Snooker to give 10-time women’s champion Reanne Evans a wild card entry to events next year, saying that Evans to deserved to win their World Championship qualifier on Thursday.
Doherty eventually saw off the challenge of Evans 10-8 in what was an engrossing match, thus preventing her from possibly becoming the first woman to qualify for the World Championship.
Evans was handed a discretionary place in the qualifying rounds for the Crucible after winning 10 consecutive ladies' world titles, but fell to defeat against Doherty, despite leading 4-3 at one stage.
Tweeting after the match, Doherty said it was “one of the toughest matches I've played" in the World Championships and that Evans deserved wild card entry to events next year.
Writing in a blog post on beanbagsports.com, Doherty said he felt everyone in the audience had wanted to Evans to win, with the exception of his brother, and admitted that Evans being a woman had been an element in his thinking.
“It was a different type of pressure, playing a woman,” Doherty wrote.
“Reanne can compete with the men and she should be given a wild card" - Ken Doherty
“All these stupid things go through your mind that if you do lose, you’ll be the first to lose to a woman in a World Championship and that adds so much pressure alone.
“Everyone is expecting you to win but they don’t realise how good she is. Nobody would have liked to have drawn Reanne Evans in the first round, there is no doubt about that. The fact is, if she was playing anybody else I would have been in the audience rooting her on. I was thinking about the slagging as well had I lost.”
Doherty stressed that he meant no disrespect to Evans, who, he wrote, “can compete at this level [...] no doubt about it.”
He reiterated his call for her to be given a wild card entry to events, saying: “Reanne can compete with the men and she should be given a wild card to compete on the tour, it would be great for women in sport generally.”
Another former world champion, Mark Williams, also asked whether Evans could be given a wild card, suggesting that it could not be bad for the game.
However, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn did not seem as keen on the idea, suggesting the Q-school beckoned for Evans, and that there would be “no special rules” for her.
Challenged on Twitter to give Evans a wild card, Hearn said: “She has had a card before and lost it. Level playing field for everyone - its the only way.”[Sic]