Stephen Hendry says he has hopes to play in the World Snooker Championship main draw again, after his return to the tour was announced last night.
The seven-time world champion retired in 2012 after defeat at the Crucible against fellow Scot Stephen Maguire. At that very tournament he compiled a maximum 147 break in a win over Stuart Bingham to bow out on a high.
The 'King of the Crucible' may not harbour realistic expectations of an eighth world title, but he will now compete for the next two years after accepting an invitational tour card.
🔥 Legend @SHendry775 is BACK. Really? Really. 🔥
The seven-time world champion will take up an invitational tour card to compete on the World Snooker Tour for at least the next two seasons.https://t.co/sn3nKYlHIz#TheKingReturns pic.twitter.com/wiiXOpdUWc
— World Snooker Tour (@WeAreWST) September 1, 2020
The 51-year-old, who won all of his world crowns in the 1990s, said on an Instagram Live last night that he wants to make it back to the iconic Sheffield venue where he has enjoyed many of his most iconic moments.
"The ultimate goal is to walk out at the Crucible again [at the World Championships].
"That is a long way off. I will definitely enter. It would be amazing to walk down the stairs again at the main event, that would be incredible."
Hendry says he has no desire to return only to play poorly event after event.
"If my game keeps improving I can qualify for the Crucible. I am coming in at the bottom so will be drawn against some good players straight away.
"It is going to be hard but if I get on a TV table with one of the top four or five players - I am not expecting anything - it will be a buzz.
"He's won his seven world titles, can he become King Hendry the Eighth?" 👑
Snooker legend Stephen Hendry is out of retirement - @ShaneHannon01 reacted to the news on #OTBAM!@GilletteUK | #MadeofWhatMatters pic.twitter.com/zJe4nIxzdW
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) September 2, 2020
"It will not be nice if I play terribly and lose 5-0 but that is a risk I have to take.
"I am going to have to start practicing but not six hours a day, seven days a week like my old regime. If I do choose to play in an event I will have to put the work in and prepare the best I can.
"Snooker is all I know and I am starting to enjoy hitting the ball again and I started to score in the Seniors, which is what my game is all about. It would be fun to cause some upsets and play well on a match table."
Hendry watched on as 44-year-old Ronnie O'Sullivan won his sixth world title last month, closing to within just one of his record. That win took 'The Rocket' to 37 ranking titles, overtaking Hendry in that regard in the process.
He reached the semi-finals of the World Seniors tournament in recent weeks, losing out to eventual champion Jimmy White.
White, Ken Doherty and James Wattana are the other veterans of the baize to accept invitations to return to the tour for the next 24 months.
World Snooker Tour chairman Barry Hearn says Hendry's return will make plenty of headlines in every tournament he enters.
"I am thrilled that Stephen has decided to return to the tour. He is a giant of the sport and I know that all eyes will be on him every time he takes to the table in the coming months.
"It’s great to know that Stephen’s competitive fires are still burning and given his extraordinary achievements, it was a no brainer to offer him the opportunity to come back. I wish Stephen all the very best for the two seasons ahead."