It was undoubtedly a sad moment for Chinese snooker fans when they heard Stephen Hendry announce his retirement on Tuesday at the Crucible Theatre, where he won the World Championship a record seven times.
However, there was some consolation for his fans here when the 43-year-old Scot said he planned to devote more time to business in China, where billiards has developed rapidly in recent years.
Hendry took up the role of global ambassador for Chinese pool and billiards in February in Beijing and flew to the northeast city of Changchun, Jilin province, to attend an eight-ball tournament in April.
"My professional snooker career has almost come to an end. But I am more of a lover of billiards than only a snooker player. Over 30 years of professional playing, I have already formed a special love for billiards, which goes beyond the categories of billiards and national borders. Chinese pool is one of the most important ones for me from now on," Hendry said in Beijing in February.
"I am convinced that Chinese pool will have a promising future My mission is to promote the development of Chinese pool across the whole world. This is not only a great honor for me but also a brand new start for my career," said Hendry, who promised to attend major events and activities to promote Chinese pool.
Nicknamed the "Emperor of Snooker", Hendry attracted numerous Chinese to the game and gained wide respect across the country.
"I don't want to leave the media center, which is utterly quiet. I can only hear reporters typing and reporting hurriedly. The quietness is heartbreaking and everyone needs time to accept this astonishing news," Zhu Ying, the first Chinese snooker referee to appear at the Crucible, wrote on her weibo account of Hendry's retirement.
Hong Kong snooker star Marco Fu wrote on his weibo site, "I fell in love with snooker because of you, this is my salute, king of snooker forever!"