Emotional Marcus Ellis vowed to fight on in badminton after conquering injury hell to return to the YONEX All England Open.
The Huddersfield star underwent hip surgery in August last year, in such profound pain that he couldn’t see a route back to the summit of the sport.
Ellis defied medical science and his own doubts to make another appearance at the world’s oldest badminton tournament, staged at Utilita Arena Birmingham for the 30th time.
The 33-year-old and mixed doubles partner Lauren Smith battled hard in their first round match but went down 21-16 21-17 to Japan’s Kyohei Yamashita and Naru Shinoya.
A tearful Ellis said: “I’m sure I’ll be proud to make it back to play at any kind of level but it’s hard because I didn’t play how I wanted to play.
“It’s amazing that I’ve managed to get back in time. My only goal was not to be hard on myself, but I feel completely disappointed in my performance.
“Having friends and family here is really special and for Lauren and I to share these moments together. We’ll be back next year.”
Smith added: “We showed in that game that we could compete. We were doing the right stuff and were better than them in parts of the game. But their consistency was better than ours and there were a lot of errors.
“I’m incredibly proud of Marcus. He’s worked through a lot of pain and a lot of difficulty to get back, the fact that he was even here is a success. It’s really nice to be back on court with him.
“This is our first major competition together and we knew we’d have to learn as we go. We’re disappointed but we’re going to reflect, learn and hopefully build. We want to grow from this.”
Tickets for the 2023 YONEX All England Open Badminton Championships are on sale now. Click here to find out more.