Fallon Sherrock became the first woman to win a match at the PDC World Championship by coming back from behind to stun Ted Evetts 3-2 in London.
The 25-year-old from Milton Keynes – only the fifth woman to play in the event – was cheered throughout a superb contest at Alexandra Palace.
Sherrock, the BDO Women’s World Championship runner-up in 2015, fell 2-1 behind but rallied to make history.
“I have proved that we can play the men and can beat them,” she said.
Sherrock ended the night in joyful tears after a thrilling victory over 22-year-old world number 77 Evetts, also from England.
She had secured one of two places for female players in the 96-strong field. The other qualifier – Japan’s Mikuru Suzuki – took Englishman James Richardson to a deciding leg before losing 3-2 on Sunday.
Canadian Gayl King – in 2000 – was the first woman to play at the PDC World Championship, with Anastasia Dobromyslova of Russia (2009 and 2019) and England’s Lisa Ashton (2019) also featuring prior to this year’s event.
After her victory, Sherrock was serenaded with the chant “we love you Sherrock, we do” by fans and was the top trend on social media. She faces Austrian Mensur Suljovic in the second round.
“I am speechless,” she said. “I don’t know what to say. Thank you every one. I feel really happy because I have made something for women’s darts.
“I can’t believe it. To do that on the biggest stage, wow. I am so happy that I can continue it rather than go out.
“This is definitely one of the best moments I’ve had. I’m just so happy. I’ve just made history. I can’t believe it. I’ve made a great achievement for women’s darts.”
How the match unfolded
Sherrock, having won a leg with 106 checkout, left herself on 80 for the first set – but did not manage to leave herself a shot at a double with her final dart, allowing Evetts to take a 1-0 lead.
With the throw, she started the second set with a 13-dart leg, was on a nine-dart finish with six perfect throws but missed the seventh before taking the set with a cool 80 finish.
In the third set, Sherrock punished Evetts’ miss at double eight to break twice, but a missed dart at double eight and three more at double four proved extremely costly, as Evetts took the next two legs to go 2-1 up.
But she forced a decider and broke Evetts in the final set and held her throw to go 2-0 up, and though Evetts pulled a leg back, Sherrock coolly finished off the contest with double 18.
Ryan Searle (Eng) 3-2 Robbie King (Aus)
Cristo Reyes (Spa) 3-2 Lourence Ilagan (Phi)
Rowby-John Rodriguez (Aut) 0-3 Noel Malicdem (Phi)
Ritchie Edhouse (Eng) 3-1 Boris Koltsov (Rus)
Jose De Sousa (Por) 0-3 Damon Heta (Aus)
Ted Evetts (Eng) 2-3 Fallon Sherrock (Eng)
Jeffrey de Zwaan (Ned) 3-2 Darin Young (US)
Krzysztof Ratajski (Pol) 3-1 Zoran Lerchbacher (Aut)