Very few people knew the excruciating pain Marcus Ellis was in when he and Lauren Smith claimed mixed doubles silver at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games in August. In the following weeks, along with his team, Ellis made the tough decision to have his hip operated on.
“I was in pain from the tour in Bali (in 2021),” Ellis said. “So it was nine or 10 months I was going into competitions and training in considerable pain. I was told if I didn’t get this sorted now, in two years, I’d be looking at a new hip.
“It’s been a really challenging six months, a lot of ups and downs. We’ve had some tough decisions to make and some difficult talks. But we’ve managed to come out the other side,” added the Rio 2016 Olympic bronze medallist.
After Ellis’ last competitive match in Birmingham, he underwent a procedure called hip microfracture – marrow-stimulating procedure used to treat localised lesions or injuries to the hip cartilage that might not heal on its own. Small holes are formed where the cartilage has been damaged, stimulating the growth of new cartilage.
“The doctors shaved some of the bone on my hip to make it more spherical. So it was set in the socket correctly and they repaired my cartilage, which was almost non-existent at that point.”
Following surgery, all there was to do was rest and recuperate, and that part, Ellis could do. Well, sort of.
“The actual rehab part was good. I quite enjoyed it – watching Netflix and Lauren making all my meals. But coming back to training was a big challenge,” admitted the 33-year-old.
“I have a big fear of surgery and anything to do with hospitals. I was motivated to get better because I didn’t want to go back there. That thought got me out of bed every day. And within a few days I was pedalling on a static bike because I wanted to get things going, I wanted to repair myself and get back,” he added, revealing the reasons behind his decision to have surgery before the World Championships.
“We had a lot of discussions around when was the best time. We were talking for many months. I wasn’t moving how I wanted to and heading into the World Championships, I wanted to know I had a chance of being there towards the end to medal. At the standard I was playing, I didn’t feel like that. It’s one of the biggest events for me but I needed to get my hip repaired.”
After six months of rehabilitation, Ellis trained hard with England for his return to competition at the European Mixed Team Championships in February, where the team came away with bronze. Now, he’s ready to do battle at his “favourite tournament on the calendar”, YONEX All England Open 2023.”
“I didn’t want to miss a single edition and while we love playing around the world, the All England is the best. It’s the reason I play badminton – that home crowd feeling is one you don’t get too often. It’s special. Hopefully, the spectators can lift us up.”
Next week, Ellis/Smith will look to go one step further than their two previous semifinal finishes. They sit in the top half of the draw and have Kyohei Yamashita/Naru Shinoya for company in the first round. This will be their second encounter, with the head-to-head 1-0 in favour of the Japanese