|Venue: Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 31 July-16 August
|Coverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Four and Red Button, with uninterrupted coverage on BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app. Full details and times.
Mark Williams says Ronnie O’Sullivan’s criticism of snooker standards among the lower rankings is “disrespectful” to him as well as younger players.
“I understand what he was saying that the standard’s no good, but that’s compared to him,” said Wales’ Williams, who O’Sullivan beat on Tuesday to reach the World Championship semi-finals.
“He’s including me in that.”
Three-time champion Williams was speaking after O’Sullivan overcame a 6-2 deficit at the Crucible to win 13-10.
O’Sullivan made his comments before facing Williams, having been asked if he was surprised that two players who had been professional for so long were facing each other at the latter stages of the World Championship.
Williams, 45, and O’Sullivan, 44, both turned professional in 1992.
“He is the pioneer for our sport. He is the main man without doubt and the best player in the world,” Williams told BBC Sport.
“You’d never have another top sportsman in their field sort of disrespecting or slagging off the rest of the tour.
“There’s no-one on the tour that’s as good as him, but it’s unfair to class everyone else in his standards because it’s not going to happen.
“And for him to have a go at the lower-ranked players I think is a bit naughty.”
Williams believes all those on the professional tour “deserve” to be there and highlighted the efforts of compatriot Jamie Clarke earlier in the tournament.
“There are a couple [of players] coming through from Wales.
“Jamie must be one of the stories of the tournament, really, for what he’s done. He looked like he was off the tour before he qualified to get a two-year card and should have beaten Anthony McGill really.
“He’s done well and hopefully there are more Welsh ones coming through.”
Despite losing to O’Sullivan, the Welshman says he “loved every minute” of their quarter-final, adding: “If people think you’re going to win from 6-2 against him, there’s something wrong.
“It’s nothing. At 6-2, I think he’s still even money to beat me.”
Williams has now set sights on next season, saying: “I’ll just continue with the work I’ve been doing for the last few months. I’ll just carry on.
“I’m not going to be in a club playing five, six hours a day. I can’t do that any more. But I’m determined to get in there two or three hours a day, four hours tops, then just keep my game ticking over – and when it starts back in September, see if I can do any damage.”