The Wallsend 33-year-old spent six years off the tour and endured stints as a taxi driver, a bar man and a production line worker in a frozen foods factory before grasping his second chance in the sport.
And Wilson continued to make the most of his opportunity as a nerveless opening break of 117 paved the way to convert a 9-7 overnight advantage into a place in the Crucible’s fabled one-table set-up.
— World Snooker (@WorldSnooker) May 1, 2019
Wilson said: “I dropped off the tour and I wasn’t good enough to get back on. I was having all these uncertain times when I didn’t know if I was going to be a pro again.
“I was desperate to get back on the tour and just scrape a living. So to go from that point to where I am now, in the one-table set-up, is absolutely amazing and the sort of thing you dream of.”
Tenacious Carter had shown signs of life after Wilson’s strong start, winning two consecutive frames including a break of 128 to narrow the deficit, but his opponent responded and a 72 in the last saw him over the line.
Wilson, whose only previous Crucible appearance saw a first round defeat to Ronnie O’Sullivan two years ago, had beaten Luca Brecel and former champion Mark Selby to reach the quarter-finals.
And he was clearly in no mood to bring his unexpected run to an end as he repelled the challenge of two-time former finalist Carter, who praised Wilson for producing “the performance of his life”.
Reflecting on a now-guaranteed career-best payday of at least £100,000, Wilson added: “I remember situations when I was struggling for money and wondering what job I was going to do.
“I’d been playing since I was eight years old and I had put my heart and soul into it. I had missed school and nights out with my mates. All this makes it feel worthwhile.”
David Gilbert joined Wilson in the last four for the first time after converting a 10-6 overnight lead into a 13-8 win over last year’s semi-finalist Kyren Wilson.
His win continued an excellent season for world number 16 Gilbert, who had only won one match in four previous Crucible visits, and almost dropped off the tour eight years ago.
Gilbert said: “Who’d have thought I’d end up here? Certainly not me. I have doubted myself a lot over the years.
“I’ve had a lot of own moments and it’s hard to believe in yourself when you’re not showing anything. I just need to remember to enjoy it because these opportunities don’t come around too often.”