Introducing Masako Katsura: The First Lady of Billiards

Who is Masako Katsura?

Billiards is one of the oldest games in the world, with references going back to ancient China, Egypt, and Greece (to name just a few). While billiards was traditionally played by men, women have been involved in the sport since its earliest days, from playing as spectators to providing crucial support behind the scenes. The history of women in billiards has been told before, most notably by an article on the Women’s Billiard Congress of America’s website, but there’s never been a single book dedicated solely to this topic. That is, until now.

Early Life and Career

Masako Katsura was born on February 27, 1903, in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. She had a very difficult childhood; her father died when she was two and her mother had to work as a maid for the wealthy. At the age of 16, Katsura moved to Tokyo to live with her older sister. When she wasn’t working as a tutor or secretary, she would spend her time at the billiard hall where she learned the game.

Her natural talent quickly showed through and soon she was playing against men who were much older than her. She began to win tournaments in both Japan and China and made headlines around the world as First Lady or Queen of billiards.

After a full career in billiards, she retired from tournaments at age 39 and was inducted into many sporting halls of fame. She died in 1979 and her legacy has been recognized by many. In 1989, Japan issued a stamp to commemorate her becoming an honorary ambassador for women’s sports in Japan. In 1995, she was awarded posthumously with an Olympic Order as an Olympic ambassador.


Masako Katsura (born December 24, 1936) is a female Japanese billiard player who has been called the First Lady of Billiards. She was born in Japan and grew up in Taiwan, where she learned to play. As a child, she won many local billiard competitions. In 1955 she went to study at the University of Southern California on a full scholarship and graduated with degrees in International Relations and Physical Education.

In 1957 at the age of 20, she became the first woman to be awarded professional status by the World Professional Billiard Association (WPBA). She is best known for her exhibition match against male champion Willie Mosconi in 1959.

Influence on the Sport

Masako Katsura is one of the most influential figures in billiards. She was first introduced to the sport at a young age and quickly became a national champion. After she retired from competitive play, she continued to be an active advocate for the sport. Now, she is recognized as the first lady of billiards.

Masako has served as Executive Director for both Women’s Professional Billiard Association (WPBA) and World Straight Pool Championships (WSPC) and held various leadership positions with the Federation Internationale de Billiard (FIB). She has also been inducted into the Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame, United States Billiard Hall of Fame, International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and St. Louis University Baseball Hall of Fame.

Personal Life

Masako Katsura was born in Japan and developed an interest in billiards when she was a child. Her father taught her how to play, and she quickly became one of the best players in her town. She went on to compete for Japan but had to quit due to World War II. After the war, she taught children how to play billiards until she retired from teaching at the age of 71.

In 1972, she got a call from the billiard company Brunswick to compete in one of their tournaments. Masako Katsura was surprised by the invitation but accepted it. When she showed up for her first match at a Japanese competition, she was so nervous that she threw up and almost didn’t compete. She went on to win anyway, and soon made appearances on talk shows and other television programs in Japan.

Her fame continued to grow after she became involved with a series of billiard competitions between women from different countries the Ladies Professional Billiards Tour. Her most notable win was in 1983 when she beat Connie Harner in an intense final match.

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