Smith and Ellis say a potential last goodbye to All England

Lauren Smith Marcus Ellis Goodbye 1200

15 March 2024

A long embrace and one last look at the hallowed YONEX All England courts – that was how Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith departed the arena after their second-round loss in the mixed doubles. 

The pair have delighted audiences in Birmingham for more than 10 years, first in other pairings and then as a mixed doubles partnership from 2018, but they admitted after the match that the end is nearing.

While the duo have not yet decided if this year will be their last on court together, they know the possibility is there.

“I don’t think we know how long we’ll be playing for,” Ellis said. “We have both had our injury struggles over the last year or two.

“And we know every single tournament we go to, we don’t know if it’s going to be the last time we go there. It may or may not be.

“But every single time, we step out on court at the All England and we want it to be something that we can proud of.

“Maybe that’s puts a little bit more pressure on ourselves and unwanted pressure. We’re not 100% finishing. Nothing is 100% and nothing is a given.

“But if that is the last time we’re out on that court, I want to remember it in a positive way.”

Smith and Ellis’ best run came in 2021 when they reached the semi-finals, and lost to the eventual champions Yuta Watanabe and Arisa Higashino.

But their love affair began long before then, with both attending the tournament as children.

Smith said: “This tournament has been huge for us. I think both of us were here as tiny wee things at seven, eight-year-olds.

“And Marcus actually mopped the court when he was about 10, so the history for us in terms of the inspiration and motivation we’ve got from coming here is huge.

“We came here, we watched it, and both made that dream of ‘I want to be on these courts, I want to play here’ and that’s come true.

“Not just once but I think maybe more than 10 times, we’ve had a lot of years here and we feel so privileged to have had that experience.

“And we’re so lucky that we’re here and, hopefully, someone in the crowd today might be the person that we were all those years ago, inspired and on the court representing England in a few years’ time.”

Ellis made his main draw debut in 2011, suffering a straight-games loss in the men’s doubles.

Lauren Smith Marcus Ellis YAE 2024 1200

He said: “I was unbelievably nervous because it was a childhood dream.

“And even though I dreamt of playing here one day, I never really thought it would happen, it was just a bit of a pipe dream.

“When I think about some of the games that I’ve had in there, it’s some of the best stuff that I’ve had inside of me in terms of badminton.

“Every single time I step out there, I really want to do my best and I want to perform and, however many years it’s been that I’ve stepped out there, however many matches, I’ve loved every single one, whether it’s been a win or a loss.

“It’s just been a huge privilege.”

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