RONNIE O’SULLIVAN has spoken candidly about how partner Laila Rouass has helped him find a “better place” in his life.
The couple briefly split last year before the Holby City and Footballers’ Wives actress confirmed they had gotten back together just three months later.
O’Sullivan, the left the World Snooker Championships in last month’s quarterfinals, he won his seventh Crucible title of 2022.
And despite his exit from the last eight this year, he remains world No. 1 ahead newly crowned world champion Luca Brecel.
O’Sullivan’s recent success comes after well-documented mental health issues.
The Rocket, whose father was jailed for murder when he was just 16, has spoken at length in the past about his struggles with anxiety and depression, as well as problems with alcohol and drugs.
And he attributes his improved condition in large part to the people he’s now around – including his longtime partner Laila – as well as the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program and a sports psychiatrist.
“She’s very supportive. I have to behave I know when to say, ‘Okay, you’re in charge’.”
“But she’s also really good at saying, ‘Listen, you’ve got a busy life, you’ve got a lot to do, just keep going’.
“Now it feels a lot better – everyone is just in a better place.
“I just want to see her and her daughter happy and her family, who are like my family, happy.”
He also added: “I’m less intense. I haven’t become any softer by changing my personality, but I’ve learned just not to take myself too seriously. I’m much more philosophical.”
Laila and snooker legend O’Sullivan, 47, have no children together but both have children from previous relationships.
Laila has a 15-year-old daughter Inez and Ronnie has three children – 26-year-old Taylor-Anne, 16-year-old Lily and 15-year-old Ronnie Jr.
O’Sullivan won the World Championship last year, tying Stephen Hendry’s tally of seven titles.
If he wins again, he will become the first eight-time champion in the modern snooker era.
And he seems to be in a much better position to show his best snooker game compared to his mentally challenging years – which he puts as the period between 1994 and 2000.
Referring to the impact his father’s incarceration had on him, he said, “That was the biggest thing that has devastated me mentally and emotionally, it just ruined me.”
“I thought that’s it, I’ll never see him.”
But now he has excellent balance in his life – O’Sullivan feels comfortable enough to explore other avenues while trusting his form will not flag.
He said: “We’re still doing the things we love, but we have the opportunity to distance ourselves to live life a little – and then have the confidence that it will still be there when I return .”