Trina Gulliver MBE said winning her tenth BDO World Championship was all the sweeter after a barren five-year spell.
Forty-six-year-old Gulliver beat Deta Hedman 3-2 in a thrilling final at the Lakeside on Saturday night to clinch her first world title since 2011.
Gulliver won her first nine titles in a stunning 11-year period in which she was the undisputed face of women’s darts.
But a series of personal tragedies, including the loss of her mother and biggest fan, Muriel, just days before the 2012 tournament, led to a dip in form, and saw her come into this year’s event a lowly eighth seed.
However, after a first-round victory over Dee Bateman, Gulliver’s title challenge gathered pace with a 2-1 win over number one seed and reigning champion Lisa Ashton.
Aileen de Graaf was beaten in the semi-finals before Gulliver came from 2-1 down to beat England captain Hedman in an emotional final.
“It was fantastic getting ten titles, especially after a dry spell inbetween,” admitted Gulliver.
“I’ve had some personal issues and lost a lot of family over the last ten years.
“It’s taken its toll and it’s hard to get past the dark days - I wear my heart on my sleeve.
“So to finally get my backside in gear...”
Gulliver, who has a trail in her honour in Southam, said the backing she has received, both from her home town and her adopted home of Cheddar, has given her the strength to get back to the pinnacle of the sport.
“I’ve had so much support from the people in Warwickshire and from the people down here in Cheddar. They’ve been brilliant and it’s put a fire in my belly. It’s been amazing.
“People have written me off but all week I’ve been reminded of the saying, ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’.”
Gulliver said she had not given too much thought as to what to do with her £12,000 prize money past paying off a few debts but did admit she had cheekily asked men’s champion Scott Waites if he wanted to split his £100,000 winnings.
And despite the ladies’ game having improved its standing in recent years, she still feels the disparity in prize money is not reflective of the entertainment the women’s game provides.
“Ladies’ darts is entertaining,” she said. “There have been some brilliant games and we have to hold our nerve just the same as the men.
“There’s less money but the world title is just as important.”