Among a cast of new and returning players at last weekend’s English Women’s Open, many were delighted to see the return of Mary Talbot-Deegan to the baize following a 19-year absence from competitive action.
A regular on the World Women’s Snooker Tour from 1994-2002, reaching seven ranking event quarter-finals including the 1997 World Championship, Talbot-Deegan almost completed a fairytale comeback in Leeds, ultimately losing out to world number four Rebecca Kenna in the final.
We caught up with the Sussex Potter to look back at her weekend in Leeds ahead of her full return to the World Women’s Snooker Tour at next month’s UK Championship…
Congratulations on your run to the final of the English Open – how happy are you with that result on your comeback?
I was delighted with my result at the weekend, I have been working hard on my game since the snooker clubs reopened after lockdown and I really enjoyed myself.
How did you find it being back in competition for the first time in 19 years? Was it what you expected?
It did feel good to be back! It’s been a long time, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, it was what I expected and more. Everyone is supportive and it felt as though I’d never been away.
You competed with a mix of new and familiar faces last weekend, how did you find the social aspect of the weekend and the atmosphere at the event?
It was great to see old friends and meet new players. It felt so good to return to the snooker family, all the women are great fun.
What motivated you to make a comeback at this time and how have you prepared over the past two years since you visited us at the Eden Masters in November 2019?
I’ve always enjoyed snooker but for a variety of reasons needed to take a break. I had hoped to return a few years ago but a shoulder injury prevented that. I love the game and hope to play at some level for many more years.
Some may not be aware, but like current professionals Ali Carter and Liam Highfield, you have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. How has this affected your snooker and are you in a better position to manage this now?
You mention Ali Carter and Liam Highfield who both have Crohn’s disease. Like them I’ve had to live with the ups and downs of the disease, they have achieved success as have many other people coping with illness.
I like to keep myself fit physically and mentally and find this helps keeps my Crohn’s under control. I just want to get on with my life whilst having lots of fun and enjoying my snooker.
Do you have any particular aims or targets for your return?
My aim is to improve my own game, learning from my coach Terry Burke and other players; I just want to finish each match feeling that I gave it my best shot on the day.
How do you see the future for women’s snooker with the news that the circuit has become a qualification tour with Reanne Evans and Ng On Yee joining the professional World Snooker Tour for the next two seasons?
I think women’s snooker has a positive future and having two players on the main tour this season is a good start. There is no reason why, in time and with increased sponsorship and more coaches, women’s snooker will not get more publicity and public interest.
Mary will be back in action at the first event of the 2021/22 season, the UK Championship which returns to the Northern Snooker Centre, Leeds, from 4-5 September 2021.
Entry for the event is still open – with new and returning players who have not competed for over 10 years – eligible for free entry to the main competition. Learn more HERE.