Masako Katsura : How She Became The First Lady Of Billiards


Masako Katsura is considered one of the greatest billiard players in history. The Japanese player was inducted into the World Billiards Hall of Fame in 1999 and ranked number one on the Women’s Professional Billiard Association (WPBA) Top 10 list for 21 consecutive years. She was also the first woman to compete for world titles at various events, including men’s and women’s team events, eight-ball competitions, and singles match. A pioneer for women athletes, she was also awarded a sportsmanship award at her final tournament after finishing in second place behind champion Tommy Jones Jr., who had defeated her earlier in the tournament on his way to winning his fourth consecutive title that year.

Who was Masako Katsura?

Masako Katsura is a professional billiards player born in Japan on August 9, 1972. She was the first woman to compete in the billiards world championship and won it two years later.

Masako Katsura married Vernor Greenleaf in 1997 and has two children together.

How Masako Katsura Started Playing Billiards?

Masako Katsura was born in 1933, and she grew up to be one of the most influential players in history. She started playing billiards when she was 15 and got involved immediately. It wasn’t long before she became one of Japan’s top female players, competing against others like Goran Ivanisevic and even Michael Jordan!

She explains how she started playing: “My father went with me to take lessons at an indoor pool club when I was 11 or 12.” She continued, “When I was 13 or 14 years old, my father took me to play at an outdoor court where there were no rules about how many strokes were taken per game.” After learning these skills from her older brother, who also played competitively at this time (he won several tournaments), Masako began participating in tournaments herself–and won them all!

Beginning of Katsura’s Sports Career

Katsura was born in Tokyo on November 24, 1959. She began playing billiards at 13–and by 20, she had become a member of the Japan Billiard Association. Katsura later joined the Japan Billiard Association in 1990 and became its first lady president.

Masako Katsura Married Vernor Greenleaf

Masako Katsura married Vernor Greenleaf, a professional billiards player who was also the son of the founder of the United States Billiards Association. He was a three-time world champion, and he was an American citizen.

Masako Katsura had been living in Japan when she met him; she came to study at Sophia University in Tokyo with her sister Midori (who later became Masako’s manager). However, they were both interested in playing pool, so they began playing together on their own time and competing against each other in tournaments around Japan.

Katsura’s Entry into the International Billiards Championship

Masako Katsura was the first woman to win a world title in any sport. She entered the 1972 World Billiards Championship and competed against some of the top players in the world at that time.

She defeated them all, including reigning world champion Dick Hume, who had been undefeated for ten years.

The Travels of Katsura’s Exhibition and the End of Her Career

Masako Katsura was the first female to compete for the World Title. She won this title in 1975 and 1977, becoming one of only two women to win this prestigious award.

She also competed for Japan as part of their national team, winning World Cups and other tournaments from 1968-1976.

Highlights of Katsura’s First International Tournament

Masako Katsura’s first international competition was the 4th World Billiards Championship in 1973. She won a gold medal at the 11th World Women’s Team Table Tennis Championships a year later. In 1977, Masako became the first woman to compete in the championship and won it by defeating her husband in a match-up that lasted 12 hours!

In 1978, she participated in Selby Open Tournament, which was held at Nottingham Arena. Also, she won gold medals both times after winning another title there as well as another one within Europe, where she competed against other international players like Leonides Seubert (Germany), Roger Piantoni (Italy), Luis Baez Ruiz (Spain), among others who had previously defeated him during his career when he was still young boy playing pool halls around Europe instead of being focused on becoming famous athlete such as himself later did during adulthood years later after retiring from competitive sports due to injury sustained during training practice sessions which left him unable to walk correctly anymore without assistance.

Katsura’s Exhibition Tours and the Demise of Her Career

Masako Katsura’s exhibition tours have been highly successful, and she has become the first lady of billiards. Her career was cut short when she retired in December 2017 due to an illness. She will be remembered as one of Japan’s greatest players because she won five world titles and seven Japanese titles during her career.

In addition to winning numerous championships, Katsura also set records at various events. She was the first woman to win three straight World Championships (2001-2003). In 2004, she was admitted into the Hall of Fame of the Billiard Congress of America. She received Japan’s highest sports honor when she received the Order Of Culture from Emperor Akihito at his palace ceremony on May 29, 2005.


In the end, Masako Katsura became a legend in her own right. She set the stage for future players and paved the way for women’s participation in professional sports. Her impact on billiards has been so significant that there are now three different tournaments dedicated solely to her name: The Masako Katsura International Challenge Billiards Championship, The Masako Katsura Tournament, and The Masako Katsura Women’s Billiard Championship. Women who follow in her footsteps can also look forward to more opportunities like these!

You may also like:

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply