Mark Selby has opened up about his “difficult” time away from the snooker table as he continues to battle mental illness while his wife, Vikki, battles cancer.
However, Selby has had to deal with a lot of pain away from snooker after the death of his best friend who died recently from the same disease.
The four-time world champion said he “just wanted out” of the World Grand Prix in January when he found out his teammate had died.
“We had a bad record last week. One of my best friends, Dave, lost his wife to cancer at the age of 44. He has a 12-year-old little girl. She’s a wonderful wife to Vikki, so it’s been a tough two weeks.
“I was playing here [Leicester] in the Grand Prix but actually she just wanted to get out of the competition, but her husband said he wouldn’t want you to do that so keep playing, but it’s been difficult.”
Selby first opened up about his mental health issues publicly in January 2022.
The 40-year-old man explained that his wife is doing well in the fight against the disease, but it is difficult for her mentally.
“He’s been stronger than me the whole time, of course,” Selby revealed. “When it was first announced I was very confused. Obviously with the way my mental health was before, it took a toll.
“He is the one who is helping me. It should be the other way around, but people say, it always seems that the person who goes through it is the strongest. “
On his mental health, Selby added: “I’ve always had a problem. When I was working with a doctor, who helped me, there is no end, he said it will not end, you will find a moment when he comes back, just deal with it.
“I know how to deal with them better now. I used to switch off, shut myself up and do nothing. I thought that was right, but I really needed to do something different.
“When I have a few days I have to go out, go for a run, motivate myself, but I used to lock myself in. I’m doing a lot better now. I’m trying. Trying to play has been difficult, I was [thinking] about resting, but then I sit at home and think about everything, which is not good for me.
He would like me to leave the house, he says to himself. I’ve tried to be as helpful as possible, that’s all you can do. Obviously we’ve been supporting our friends, and now Nina sadly passed away while we were there at Dave’s. It’s hard but it makes you realize that snooker is just a game.
“Playing helps me because it also gives me purpose, and I’m doing it for Vikki [his daughter] Sofia too, to put food on the table, so I’m motivated to keep getting them. “
Selby also missed out on a fifth World Championship title when he was beaten 18-15 by Luca Brecel at the end of May.
Although it was difficult for Selby to endure away from the game, he managed a remarkable 147 at the crucible.
He admitted that the circumstances around his family at the time helped him to reach the end of Sheffield as he played “without a care in the world”.
“Vikki was undergoing radiotherapy while I was playing at Worlds so it took my focus off the competition,” he said.
“I was playing and thinking, ‘If I get hit, what should I do?’ I told Vikki that I wanted to be with her when she had radiotherapy but she said, ‘Look, it’s only 20 minutes a day.’ But I wanted to be there to help him, to get through it.
“He wanted me to play and I continued to play. It takes a little bit of the pressure off, because you’re playing without a care in the world at the table, so you’re in the end.”