Stephen Hendry

Stephen Gordon Hendry MBE (born 13 January 1969) is a Scottish professional snooker player and a commentator for the BBC and ITV. As a seven-time World Champion, he is one of the most successful players in the modern era of the World Snooker Championship and holds the record for the most seasons as world number one (nine seasons). His first world title in 1990, at the age of 21, made him the youngest-ever World Champion, a record that he still holds.

Hendry also has six Masters titles (including five consecutively) and five UK Championship titles. His total of 18 Triple Crown tournament wins is surpassed only by Ronnie O'Sullivan's 20. One of three players to have won all three Triple Crown events in a single season, Hendry is the only player to have achieved the feat twice, in the 1989–90 and 1995–96 seasons. He has the second-highest total of ranking titles (36) behind O'Sullivan. A prolific break builder, Hendry has recorded 776 career century breaks, and made 11 officially recognised maximum breaks in professional competition.

He was awarded an MBE in 1994, and voted BBC Scotland's Sports Personality of the Year in 1987 and 1996. In May 2012, after appearing in his 27th consecutive World Championship, Hendry announced his retirement from the game, bringing to an end his record 23 consecutive seasons in the top 16 of the world rankings. His decision to retire was in response to a severe loss of form caused by "the yips", a condition that first affected his game 12 years prior to his retirement.

In September 2020, it was announced that Hendry would come out of retirement after receiving an invitational tour card for the next two seasons.


Amateur years (1981–1985)

Hendry started playing snooker in 1981, aged 12, when his father, Gordon, bought him a child-sized snooker table as a Christmas present. Two years later he won the Scottish U-16 Championship. He also appeared on BBC's Junior version of Pot Black. The following year he won the Scottish Amateur Championship and also became the youngest ever entrant in the World Amateur Championship. In 1985, after retaining the Scottish Amateur Championship, he turned professional. At 16 years and three months old he was the youngest ever professional. Hendry was managed by entrepreneur Ian Doyle.

Early professional years (1986–1988)

In his first season, he reached the last 32 in the Classic and was the youngest ever Scottish Professional champion, winning the 1986 edition. He also became the youngest player ever to qualify for the World Championship, a record he held until 2012 when Luca Brecel qualified at the age of 17 years and one month. He lost 8–10 to Willie Thorne who then applauded him out of the arena. In the next season he retained the Scottish Professional Championship title and reached the quarter-finals of both the Grand Prix and World Championship, losing 12–13 to defending champion Joe Johnson, and the semi-finals of the Classic. Hendry and Mike Hallett combined to win that year's World Doubles Championship. In the 1987–88 season, Hendry won his first world ranking titles, the Grand Prix, beating Dennis Taylor 10–7 in the final, and the 1988 British Open. He also claimed three other tournament victories, retaining both the Scottish Professional Championship and the World Doubles Championship (with Hallett), and the Australian Masters. By the end of that season he was ranked world no. 4 and was voted the BBC Scotland Sports Personality of the Year.

No ranking titles came his way the following season, although he did win the New Zealand Masters and also his first Masters at Wembley.

World Champion and World Number One (1989–1999)

The 1989–90 season saw the beginning of Hendry's period of dominance. That season, he won the 1989 UK Championship, Dubai Classic, Asian Open, Scottish Masters, The Masters and his first World Championship, beating Jimmy White 18–12 in the final, elevating him to the summit of the world rankings at the age of 21. The following season, he set a record of five world ranking titles in one season and recorded a hat-trick of Masters, beating Mike Hallett 9–8 after coming back from 0–7 and 2–8 in the final. However, Hendry failed to retain his world title, losing to Steve James in the quarter-finals. In the 1991–92 season, Hendry regained the World title, winning 10 frames in a row in the final to come from 8–14 down to defeat White 18–14, adding to the victories in both the Grand Prix and the Welsh Open. He won the Masters, too, and achieved his first competitive 147 break, in the Matchroom League. A year later, he retained both his World Championship title and a fifth consecutive Masters crown. The following season, he retained the World Championship, narrowly beating Jimmy White 18–17 in the final. Also in 1997, Stephen Hendry played Ronnie O'Sullivan in the Liverpool Victoria Charity Challenge final. The match was best of 17 frames. Hendry raced into a 6–1 and 8–2 lead with breaks of 110, 129 and 136, whereas O'Sullivan made a break of 106 in one of the two frames he won. O'Sullivan won the next six frames to level the match at 8–8. In the deciding frame, Hendry potted a long red to land himself on the black. Hendry went on to make a 147 maximum break, to win the match 9–8.

In 1994–95, after being awarded an MBE, he won three ranking events, including the World and UK Championships, both of which he would retain the following year. In the 1994 UK final, Hendry defeated Ken Doherty 10–5, making seven centuries in the match. This performance has been described by snooker journalist David Hendon as "possibly the best anybody has ever played". His run of successes continued in 1995–96 with three titles, including the World Championship, where an 18–12 victory in the final against Peter Ebdon saw him equal the achievement of Ray Reardon and Steve Davis by notching up a sixth World crown. In 1997, he won BBC Scotland Sports Personality of the Year award for a second time and added another three ranking titles to his collection, although Ken Doherty denied him a sixth consecutive World crown by defeating him 18–12 in the final.

Hendry's dominant position in snooker appeared to be on the wane, as the only ranking event he won in the 1997–98 season was the Thailand Masters. In the 1998 Masters final at Wembley, Hendry led his good friend Mark Williams 9–6, needing just one more frame for victory. However, he then wasted numerous chances to close out the match and eventually lost 9–10 after the deciding frame went to a re-spotted black. This match is regarded by many as one of the greatest in the history of the game. He also lost his World No. 1 ranking for the first time since 1990 and was eliminated in the first round of the World Championship, losing heavily to White (4–10). The 1998–99 season began with an embarrassing 0–9 first-round loss in the UK Championship to unseeded Marcus Campbell. However, a resurgent Hendry won the last two events in the campaign – the Scottish Open and a record seventh World title. After beating Ronnie O'Sullivan 17–13 in their semi-final, he emerged a convincing 18–11 winner over future three-time World Champion Mark Williams. This was Hendry's last World Championship title.

Later career (1999–2010)

Hendry made a strong start to the 1999–00 season by winning two of the first three tournaments, including the British Open, where he made the fifth 147 break of his career and the first maximum in a ranking final. However, he was surprisingly defeated in the first round of the 2000 World Championship by debutant Stuart Bingham. By Hendry's high standards, the 2000–01 season was a disappointment, as he failed to win a ranking event for the first time since the 1988–89 season and reached only one final. Still he won the European Open the next season and came close to an eighth World Championship. Having eliminated defending champion O'Sullivan in the semi-finals (17–13), he lost narrowly to Ebdon in the final (17–18). This was Hendry's ninth and last appearance in a World Championship Final.

The Welsh Open in 2002–03 and the British Open in 2003–04 came Hendry's way, with his victory in the 2005 Malta Cup being his most recent ranking success. Hendry reached another World Championship semi-final but was thrashed 4–17 by O’Sullivan with a session to spare, which was the heaviest defeat in a world semi-final. However, following O'Sullivan's decision to not enter the 2006 Malta Cup, Hendry was able to regain the world no. 1 position in 2005–06 due to consistency in reaching the latter stages of tournaments without, by his own admission, reproducing his form of old. He reached the final of the 2006 UK Championship in a tournament memorable for his quarter-final against Ronnie O'Sullivan, in which O'Sullivan unexpectedly forfeited the match at 4–1 down following a strong start by Hendry. The Scot then came back from 5–7 behind in his semi-final to defeat then-World Champion Graeme Dott 9–7, but lost in the final, 6–10, to Peter Ebdon. Following a disappointing season in 2007–08, Hendry unexpectedly reached his 12th semi-final at the World Championships, a new record surpassing Steve Davis' tally of 11. In doing so aged 39 Hendry became the oldest player to reach the semi-finals of the tournament since Terry Griffiths in 1992; however, he again lost heavily against an in-form O’Sullivan 6–17 with a session to spare. Hendry was whitewashed 0–8 in the second session of their match, the first time he had failed to win a frame in a full session at The Crucible.

Hendry started the 2008–09 season with two losses in his first matches. He was beaten 1–5 by Stephen Lee in the Northern Ireland Trophy and 4–5 by Ricky Walden in the Shanghai Masters. He had more success in the Grand Prix, however, winning his first-round match with David Gilbert 5–4, before succumbing to the eventual winner, John Higgins, 2–5 in the next round. However, in the next ranking event, the Bahrain Championship, he reached the semi-final, but he lost 4–6 to Matthew Stevens. In the next three professional tournaments, the 2008 UK Championship, the Masters and the Welsh Open, Hendry lost in the first round to Stephen Lee, Neil Robertson and Martin Gould respectively. He found some form in the China Open, beating Robert Milkins and Ricky Walden, but lost his quarter-final match to Peter Ebdon, the eventual winner of the tournament.

At the 2009 World Championship Hendry beat Mark Williams 10–7 in first round. This win guaranteed Hendry a place in the top sixteen of the rankings for the following season. He then went on to win 13–10 against Ding Junhui. In that match Hendry reached another milestone: a 1000th frame won at the Crucible (also, in that very frame Hendry scored 140 points). On 28 April, Hendry made a 147 maximum break against Shaun Murphy. He eventually lost the match 11–13 to Murphy the next day to go out of the championship. At the age of 40, he became the oldest player to make a maximum in a ranking tournament and only the second player (after O'Sullivan) to make more than one 147 at the Crucible. Hendry ended up at no. 10 of the world rankings, falling outside the top eight for the first time since the 1987/1988 season.

In the 2009–10 season Hendry won his opening matches in every ranking tournament, however didn't manage to get to a quarter-final until the China Open, where he lost 4–5 to Mark Allen, despite at one time leading the match 4–2. In the Masters Hendry lost in the first round. In the first round of the World Championship, Hendry defeated China's Zhang Anda. Hendry was 7–9 down in the best-of-19 match, but won three frames in a row for a 10–9 victory. At the press conference he confessed, that, had he lost the match, he would have seriously considered retirement. He lost in the second round 5–13 against Mark Selby. Apart from the Main Tour tournaments he won the seniors invitation tournament "Legends of Snooker" beating Ken Doherty 5–3 in the final. Another important event was the much publicised challenge match with Ding Junhui played in Beijing, which Hendry lost 6–13.

Final professional years (2010–2012)

Hendry at the Brugge Open 2010

In the 2010–11 season Hendry could not maintain his unbeaten run in the first round of ranking events, as he lost it at the Shanghai Masters against Martin Gould by 2–5. At the World Open in Glasgow, Hendry recorded 3–0 whitewashes against Bjorn Haneveer and Mark Davis, before he was beaten 1–3 by rival Ronnie O'Sullivan. At the 2010 UK Championship in Telford, Hendry was drawn against another old rival, Jimmy White. Despite struggling with his game throughout the match Hendry came through 9–8, rolling back the years by compiling a match-winning break in the deciding frame. In the second round Hendry was defeated 6–9 by Mark Williams. Afterwards Hendry expressed his frustration with his form and revealed that he has been suffering from "the yips" for the last ten years, leaving him unable to cue through the ball and causing him to miss the simplest of shots.

Hendry lost 3–6 against reigning World Champion Neil Robertson in the 2011 Masters. Hendry made his 10th 147 break at the 2011 Welsh Open in the opening frame of the last 16 round vs Stephen Maguire, but later lost the game. At the 2011 China Open Hendry whitewashed Matthew Stevens 5–0 in the first round, before losing to Ding Junhui 2–5 in the second round. At the 2011 World Championship, he beat Joe Perry in the deciding frame of their first round tie before going out in the second round, for the second consecutive year, to Mark Selby 4–13.

Hendry began the 2011–12 season at the first event of the Players Tour Championship, and lost 3–4 against Kyren Wilson. As a result of this he was ranked number 17 after the event, the first time out of the top 16 since the 1987/1988 season. However, he moved back into the top 16 after reaching the second round of the Australian Goldfields Open. In September he played Robert Milkins in the first round of the Shanghai Masters, but lost the match 1–5, subsequently losing his position inside the top 16 after the first cut off point and was ranked number 21. This meant that Hendry would not participate in the Masters for the first time in 23 years and that he would have to qualify to reach the main stages of all the ranking events in the snooker calendar.

Hendry qualified for the 2011 UK Championship after beating Gerard Greene 6–2 in the final qualifying round. It was his first qualifying match since 1989.[unreliable source?] However, he lost 3–6 to compatriot Stephen Maguire in the first round. He reached the semi-finals of the twelfth PTC event in January 2012, but narrowly lost 3–4, once again to Maguire. Hendry needed to reach the final in order to make the top 24 of the Order of Merit and secure a place in the Finals. Hendry lost 1–5 in a qualifying match against James Wattana for the German Masters and therefore did not play in a ranking tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Hendry qualified for the Welsh Open by whitewashing Kurt Maflin 4–0 to reach the first round, where he played reigning Masters champion Neil Robertson and recorded the result of his season so far by triumphing 4–1. He was then whitewashed 0–4 by Mark Allen in the following round. Hendry also played the Australian in the first round of the World Open after he defeated Mike Dunn 5–2 in qualifying, however this time he lost 3–5. Hendry won his fourth qualifying encounter out of five so far this season, when he defeated Yu Delu 5–1 to seal his place for the China Open. There he beat Martin Gould 5–4 in the first round on the final black. He played Robertson for the third consecutive time in a ranking event in the last 16 and was beaten 3–5.


Hendry ensured he would feature in his 27th consecutive World Championship when he qualified by beating Yu again, this time by a 10–6 scoreline. He made a 147 on the opening day of the tournament in a match against Stuart Bingham. This was his third maximum break at the Crucible Theatre and his 11th in total, both records which he shared with Ronnie O'Sullivan (O'Sullivan is now on 15 maximums). He advanced to the second round with a 10–4 win over Bingham and then defeated an out of sorts defending champion John Higgins 13–4, his first victory over his compatriot in a ranking event since 2003, to set up a quarter-final meeting with Stephen Maguire. Hendry has reached 19 quarter-finals, with only eight players having played in the tournament that many times. Hendry lost 2–13 to Maguire and immediately announced his retirement from the game citing dissatisfaction with his standard of play in recent years and difficulty balancing competitive, commercial and personal commitments and revealed he had made the decision three months earlier.

Return to the professional tour (2020–present)

It was announced on 1 September 2020 that Hendry had accepted an invitational tour card to play on the World Snooker Tour for the next two seasons. He delayed his return and said he had the option to appear at the Welsh Open in February 2021 to warm up for the World Championship; despite this, his comeback was delayed once again because of what he claimed was a "glitch" on the entry system for the Welsh Open. He played his first professional match in nine years at the Gibraltar Open, where he lost 1–4 to Matthew Selt in the first round, but did compile a century break in his first match out of retirement.


Stephen Hendry has won 75 professional titles, putting him second on the all-time list, behind Steve Davis. Hendry was the record holder for the number of ranking titles won, setting the record of 36 before it was beaten by Ronnie O'Sullivan in 2020. Hendry set the record during a period when fewer ranking events were available per season. Hendry also won four team titles as well as several amateur titles. His other career records include the most consecutive ranking titles, most century breaks compiled in one match (7), most centuries compiled in one tournament (16), most years ranked world number one, longest unbroken run inside the top 16 of the world rankings (23 seasons) and—at the time of his retirement—highest total prize money.

Hendry's World Snooker profile states that he is "One of snooker’s all-time greats". Former player Dennis Taylor (in 2013), and former player and coach of Ronnie O’Sullivan, Ray Reardon (in 2004), have stated that he has been superseded by O'Sullivan. In 2005 John Higgins, who competed with both players at their respective peaks, concurred, proclaiming O'Sullivan as "the best that's ever played the game". Steve Davis—a six-times former world champion and BBC pundit—is more divided on the issue, considering O'Sullivan to be the best player but Hendry the greatest winner. Jimmy White also regards O'Sullivan as the best player he's ever seen, but considers Steve Davis his toughest opponent. Dell Hill—a snooker coach who has worked with some of the game's top players—also considers O'Sullivan the best player "without a shadow of a doubt", but believes that O'Sullivan has "under-achieved" next to Hendry. O'Sullivan himself has dismissed the suggestion that he is the greatest player and believes that a player must equal Hendry's haul of seven world titles to be regarded as such. Former world champion Stuart Bingham also takes a statistical view of the question, stating that O'Sullivan is the "best player to pick up a cue" but Hendry's record of seven world titles settles the debate as to who the greatest player is. Desmond Kane of Eurosport has argued that if it were purely a statistical question then Joe Davis's fifteen world championships would settle the issue, that there is no real difference between the "greatest" and the "best", and that O'Sullivan has played snooker to a higher standard than anyone.

Hendry himself has identified O’Sullivan as the greatest player he has played against but considers he would triumph in a match if both players played at their peak.

Personal life

Hendry was born in South Queensferry, West Lothian, brought up in Gorgie, Edinburgh, and then Dalgety Bay, Fife, where he attended Inverkeithing High School. He later returned to Kirkliston, attending nearby Queensferry High School from the age of fourteen, and lived in a flat in South Queensferry during the early part of his professional career. He met his future wife Mandy Tart at a Pontins holiday camp when he was 16. The couple married in 1995 and settled in Auchterarder. They have two sons, Blaine (born 1996) and Carter (born 2004). In 2014, Hendry left his wife after 19 years of marriage and moved to England to pursue a relationship with 26-year-old children's entertainer and actress Lauren Thundow, whom he had met at a snooker event the previous year.

Hendry has a single-figure golf handicap. He enjoys poker and has appeared in several televised tournaments. Hendry is also keenly interested in football, supporting Scottish side Hearts and English side Chelsea F.C.

When returning to Scotland from the Thailand Open in September 2003, Hendry had his cue broken. The cue, which he had owned since he was aged 14, having purchased it for £40, was the cue he had used when winning his 7 world titles. Since the 11 September 2001 attacks, snooker players have been required to put their cues in the holds of aeroplanes, where they are susceptible to damage.

In August 2011, HM Revenue and Customs successfully applied to Glasgow Sheriff Court to liquidate the assets of Stephen Hendry Snooker Ltd, the company set up to manage Hendry's sponsorships and promotion, following its failure to pay an £85,000 tax bill.

Performance and rankings timeline

Career finals

Ranking finals: 57 (36 titles, 21 runners-up)

Non-ranking finals: 64 (39 titles, 25 runners-up)

* It was decided by aggregate score over five frames.
** There was no play-off. Title decided on league table only.

Team finals: 6 (4 titles, 2 runners-up)

Amateur finals: 3 (3 titles)

Maximum breaks


External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Stephen Hendry, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.