Five of the biggest legends in snooker history are on tour together

Stephen Hendry, Jimmy White, Ronnie O'Sullivan, Mark Williams and John Higgins on the snooker tour together


Stephen Hendry is back on the professional snooker circuit nine years after his retirement and there's plenty of legendary rivalries waiting to renew.

The seven-time world champion decided to quit the sport back in 2012 following a 13-2 humbling to Stephen Maguire at the Crucible, but by that time he'd nothing left to prove having amassed record hauls of 36 ranking titles, 18 Triple Crown wins and 775 centuries, not to mention holding the joint most maximum breaks of 11 with Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Last summer he watched from the commentary box as the Rocket eventually surpassed his ranking tally with his sixth world title - which was also his 20th Triple Crown event - while he'd already topped the centuries chart five years earlier and is now nearing his 1100th ton, including 15 maximums.

RONNIE O'SULLIVAN WINS HIS SIXTH WORLD SNOOKER CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE AT THE CRUCIBLE

Whether or not O'Sullivan equals or beats Hendry's Crucible record probably won't ever come down to his influence, but the mere possibility of the two greatest players of all time ever meeting at the sport's spiritual home again will be ultimate dream for most snooker fans to come out of this potential fairytale.

They met 56 times before Hendry called it a day and although the Rocket won 30 of them, including their second ever clash in the 1993 UK Championship final, it was the Scotsman who edged three of their five showdowns on the biggest stage of all.

1993 UK Championship Final | Ronnie O'SULLIVAN vs Stephen HENDRY! 🐐

Hendry, who won all of his Triple Crown trophies in a 10-year spell between 1989 and 1999 compared to O'Sullivan's title span of 28 years (1992-2020 and counting), admits his primary goal of qualifying for another World Championship is a long way off and that journey starts this week in Milton Keynes, which hosts the Gibraltar Open.

But despite his nine-year hiatus from professional competition, it'll almost feel like he's never been away when he gets back in the swing of things considering 11 of the current world's top 16 were in that bracket during his final World Championship appearance. And three of those - O'Sullivan, John Higgins and Mark Williams - were among his most challenging adversaries for almost all of his glorious career.

Then, to top it off, throw his first big historic rival into the mix in Jimmy White, who continues to try and roll back the years at the age of 58, and we suddenly find ourselves with quite the quintet of legends all battling it out in one tournament like the glory days. This is as close to a sporting time machine as you can get.

Click on the mage to read our tribute to the Stephen Hendry v Jimmy White rivalry

We did of course get a taster of these blast from the past match ups at last year's World Senior Championship, where the Whirlwind gained a small measure of revenge upon the man who crushed his Crucible dreams in four of his six heartbreaking finals by beating him en route to glory - but you can expect Hendry to be far better prepared after months of focused practice and a new burning desire to compete.


Longevity of the legends titles

It's a mind-boggling statistic that Hendry, O'Sullivan, Higgins, Williams and White have won more professional titles overall than their combined age of 245.

White got the ball rolling way back in 1982 at the Scottish Masters against Cliff Thorburn while Higgins added the 248th to this ridiculous collection - of which 136 are ranking - as recently as Sunday when he produced a timeless masterclass against none other than O'Sullivan in a superb Players Championship final that featured five centuries, including knocks of 144, 142 and 138.

The Wizard of Wishaw compiled the latter two as well as a 127 that sealed his 31st ranking title and his first in three years while he'd reached the final by whitewashing both Jordan Brown and Mark Selby 6-0 before thrashing Kyren Wilson 6-1 to underline how much of a threat he will pose for the rest of the season, including the World Championship this spring.

Higgins' staying power 27 years on from pocketing the first of 47 professional winners' cheques also proves how the formidable combination of class and experience can defy the ageing process. Hendry was possibly guilty of assuming his powers were fading fast, rather than turning his advancing years into a weapon as others have done.

That said, the King of the Crucible's retirement had come precisely 27 years after his debut World Championship in 1985, 13 after his last Triple Crown triumph and seven after his last of 71 career titles so the mental battle to keep going in an era of stark contrast to all that insane success of the 1990s was damaging his pride.

O'Sullivan's four successive final defeats since his World Championship heroics last summer means his overall trophy haul of 71 still spans 27 years dating back to his first of a record seven UK Championships in 1993, while Williams picked up his first of 29 titles - 22 of them ranking - in 1994, his most recent coming at the start of the 2018/19 season not long after he'd celebrated his third Crucible crown against Higgins in the nude.

White's span of 28 non-senior titles, which included the 1984 Masters, 1992 UK Championship and eight other 10 ranking triumphs, may 'only' be 23 years between his first in 1981 and last in 2004 but he is permanently the People's Champion of course which has to count for something.


Maximum men

Hendry's thrashing at the hands of Maguire in the 2012 quarter-finals was the final straw in his flagging career and overshadowed the promise of the 147 against Stuart Bingham two rounds earlier, and the 13-4 victory over defending champion Higgins in the next.

Stephen Hendry 147! 2012 Crucible Maximum Break!

That was actually the most recent 147 at the Crucible until Higgins memorably achieved perfection for the 11th time overall against Kurt Maflin last summer and of the other nine compiled in the tournament's history, seven have been down to the cueing sorcery of this incredible five-piece.

Watch John Higgins score a 147 maximum break at World Snooker Championship in full – every shot

White landed his in 1992 before being on the receiving end of Hendry's first of three in 1995 but next came O'Sullivan with 'that' fastest ever 147 two years later. He'd fire in another two (2003 & 2008) either side of Williams getting in on the act in 2005, while Hendry's second came in 2009.

Ronnie O'Sullivan Fastest 147 Break Ever | 1997 Snooker World Championship | Eurosport

In total O'Sullivan (15), Higgins (11) and Hendry (11) comfortably lead the way in the all-time maximum charts - Stuart Bingham is next with eight - while Williams (2) and White (1) have long been left trailing in their wake on this score.


Vital Statistics

Before we run through each of the five's jaw-dropping career achievements, here's one telling statistic that emphasises just how much their careers have intertwined with each other on many absorbing occasions.

Of their combined 56 Triple Crown titles, they had to do it with victory over one of their fellow legends in the final on 17 occasions between 1990 and 2018:

  • Hendry 18-12 White - 1990 World Championship
  • Hendry 18-14 White - 1992 World Championship
  • Hendry 18-5 White - 1993 World Championship
  • O'Sullivan 10-6 Hendry - 1993 UK Championship
  • Hendry 18-17 White - 1994 World Championship
  • O'Sullivan 10-5 John Higgins - 1995 Masters
  • Hendry 10-5 O'Sullivan -1996 Masters
  • Hendry 10-9 Higgins - 1996 UK Championship
  • O'Sullivan 10-6 Hendry - 1997 UK Championship
  • Williams 10-9 Hendry - 1998 Masters
  • Hendry 18-11 Williams - 1999 World Championship
  • Higgins 10-4 Williams - 2000 UK Championship
  • O'Sullivan 18-14 Higgins - 2001 World Championship
  • Williams 10-4 Hendry - 2003 Masters
  • Higgins 10-9 O'Sullivan - 2006 Masters
  • Higgins 10-9 Williams - 2010 UK Championship
  • Williams 18-16 Higgins - 2018 World Championship

HEAD-TO-HEAD RECORDS

  • Stephen Hendry 21-30 Ronnie O'Sullivan (5 draws)
    Finals: 4-9
  • Stephen Hendry 18-18 John Higgins (3 draws)
    Finals: 3-2
  • Stephen Hendry 19-17 Mark Williams (4 draws)
  • Stephen Hendry 36-19 Jimmy White (5 draws)
    Finals: 4-2
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan 37-31 John Higgins (3 draws)
    Finals: 10-8
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan 33-12 Mark Williams (3 draws)
    Finals: 4-1
  • Ronnie O'Sullivan 33-10 Jimmy White (4 draws)
    Finals: 2-0
  • John Higgins 34-22 Mark Williams (4 draws)
    Finals: 4-4
  • John Higgins 20-6 Jimmy White (1 draw)
    Finals: 1-0
  • Mark Williams 10-6 Jimmy White (2 draws)
    Finals: N/A

Player Profiles

RONNIE O'SULLIVAN

  • Age: 45
  • Turned pro: 1992
  • World ranking: 2
  • Ranking titles/finals: 38/57
  • Triple Crowns: 20
    6x World titles: 2001, 2004, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2020
    7x UK Championship: 1993, 1997, 2001 2007, 2014, 2017, 2018
    7x Masters: 1995, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2016, 2017
  • Overall titles: 71
  • Title span: 1993-2020
  • Career winnings: Β£11,899,155
  • Century Breaks: 1097
  • Maximum Breaks: 15

STEPHEN HENDRY

  • Age: 52
  • Turned pro: 1985
  • World ranking: 128
  • Ranking titles/finals: 36/57
  • Triple Crowns: 18
    7x World titles: 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999
    5x UK Championship: 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1996
    6x Masters: 1989, 1990, 1901, 1992, 1993, 1996
  • Overall titles: 71
  • Title span: 1986-2005
  • Career winnings: Β£8,970,000
  • Century Breaks: 775
  • Maximum Breaks: 11

JOHN HIGGINS

  • Age: 45
  • Turned pro: 1992
  • World ranking: 5
  • Ranking titles/finals: 31/51
  • Triple Crowns: 9
    4x World titles: 1998, 2007, 2009, 2011
    3x UK Championship: 1998, 2000, 2010
    2x Masters: 1999, 2006
  • Overall titles: 47
  • Title span: 1994-2021
  • Career winnings: Β£9,295,578
  • Century Breaks: 833
  • Maximum Breaks: 11

MARK WILLIAMS

  • Age: 45
  • Turned pro: 1992
  • World ranking: 13
  • Ranking titles/finals: 22
  • Triple Crowns: 7
    3x World titles: 2000, 2003, 2018
    2x UK Championship: 1999, 2002
    2x Masters: 1998, 2003
  • Overall titles: 29
  • Title span: 1994-2018
  • Career winnings: Β£6,529,137
  • Century Breaks: 507
  • Maximum Breaks: 2

JIMMY WHITE

  • Age: 58
  • Turned pro: 1980
  • World ranking: 85
  • Ranking titles/finals: 10/24
  • Triple Crowns: 2
    0 World titles
    1x UK Championship: 1992
    1x Masters: 1984
  • Overall titles: 28
  • Title span: 1981-2004
  • Career winnings: Β£4,812,154
  • Century Breaks: 320
  • Maximum Breaks: 1
Click on the image to read Nick Metcalfe's column on Stephen Hendry is preparing for his return

Gibraltar Open details

  • When: March 1-7
  • Where: Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
  • TV coverage: Eurosport
  • Defending champion: Judd Trump

CLICK HERE FOR FULL TOURNAMENT DRAW AND SCHEDULE

CLICK HERE FOR GIBRALTAR OPEN BETTING TIPS

Like what you've read?

Most Read

Join for free!
Access to exclusive features all for FREE - No monthly subscription fee
Race Replays
My stable horse tracker
giftOffers and prize draws
newsExclusive content