Jane Holland, 6 February 1997
At the age of 23, never having seen a snooker table before, I picked up a cue and started practising for the Women’s World Championship. Five years later, ranked 24th in the world, I was banned for lift for bringing the game into disrepute. From start to finish, my snooker career was sheer bloody-mindedness. I had left university early to get married, had my first child and then realised I had backed myself into a corner. One night, sick of watching my husband and his friends play pool, I challenged them to a game. I beat them all, one after another. A friend took me to a local snooker club. The green baize stretched away under the hanging lamps like the pitch at Wembley, full of strange promise. The competitive edge I thought I’d lost in the haze of motherhood came back. Someone mentioned money. I picked up a cue and played as though my life depended on it.