Lee has certainly done so in her 3� years as a pro. By the end of her first season, 1993, she was ranked No. 8 in the world. Before the 1994 season she boldly predicted she would be the next No. 1 player. She won five of the circuit's 12 tournaments, earned $45,326 and was named player of the year.
"I need to really make it for my family's sake," says Lee, who is the younger of two daughters of Korean immigrant parents. "They don't put that pressure on me. I put it all on myself." Her father, Bo Chun Lee, 66, owns a smoke shop across the street from the Empire State Building, and her mother, Sonja, 56, is a registered nurse. Lee hopes they'll be able to retire soon with her help. She also dreams of putting all her cousins through college.
After her meteoric rise to the No. 1 ranking, Lee struggled during the 1995 season. She won only two tournaments and twice finished second. By the end of the year she was tied with Robin Bell as the top-ranked player. Lee took back her No. 1 status within a month, slipped briefly to No. 2 and is now tops again. "I'm kind of in a trap," she explains. "When you first start out, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. You've just got the odds against you. When you're somebody, you have all this pressure."
Last June Lee met George Breedlove, a 29-year-old professional on the men's tour who is known as the Flamethrower for his powerful breaks on the table. Breedlove proposed on their third date. They were married on Jan. 6, but because of their touring schedules, haven't had time for a honeymoon. Two days after their wedding in Queens, N.Y., they hit the road for the ESPN World Open Nine Ball Championship, in Santa Rosa, Calif.
Breedlove has made life easier for Lee. He takes care of most of their business affairs while Lee uses the time to practice. "You ever hear the phrase, 'I've got your back?' " Lee asks. "I feel like someone's got my back. I'm not as worried. It's kind of nice to know someone's there to take care of me."
The extra time Lee is spending at the table has paid off. She is playing more consistently this season. So far she has finished third in the circuit's first two events, then added two fourth-place and two fifth-place finishes in the next four events. "When I play eight to 10 hours every day," she says, "I feel like Superwoman."
Players on tour have noticed that Lee is also more relaxed, a change they attribute to her marriage. Her impish side was evident at a billiards expo in March, in Valley Forge, Pa., where she squared off for an exhibition nine ball match against her husband. The first few games went to Lee, then Breedlove seized control. Lee bent over next to him and said, loud enough for all to hear, "George, before you make this shot, I hope you know where the couch is." Breedlove shook his head and sank the 7 ball. "I know," he says, "I'm in the doghouse tonight." Eventually Lee won, and Breedlove announced to the crowd with a big smile, "The best part about losing—I'm the only one who gets to kiss the winner."
After the exhibition Lee was swamped by fans seeking her autograph. Each signature included her customary heart. As Breedlove waited for his wife, he said, "Every time she plays me, she plays with a fire in her eyes. If she could play that way all the time, she would win every tournament."
That's a prospect the Black Widow's opponents would find quite deadly.