Ellie Leach, the winner of Strictly Come Dancing 2023, has returned to social media with a bang, declaring her ‘love’ for her professional partner Vito Coppola.
He, for one, was affected by her remarks to the point of crying again as he pledged that ‘this is only the beginning’ for the two of them.
The duo, who left fans wondering about their relationship status due to claims of ‘romance,’ captivated viewers at home with their last three acts, including a daring display dance, during Saturday’s final.
Ellie, 22, has certainly been swept up in the joy of victory, with scarcely any time to be on social media after winning the glitterball trophy over runners-up Layton Williams and Nikita Kuzmin and Bobby Brazier and Dianne Buswell.
However, after becoming Strictly champion, she returned to Instagram on Monday evening to express her appreciation, which included a tearful message for Italian pro Vito, 31, which brought him to tears once more.
‘To the most wonderful partner I could have ever asked for. Words cannot describe how much love and admiration I have for you,’ she began, in a long caption next to a black and white polaroid photo of her and Vito lifting up their trophy.
‘When we first met I had an immediate calming feeling with you, considering how high energy you are I don’t know how this was possible but it was😂 I immediately felt safe with you and I was so excited to see how our journey would end up.’
The former Coronation Street actress claimed that ‘never in a million years did I imagine we’d go this far,’ but she thanked Vito with not ‘enabling’ her to worry about letting him down.
Referencing both of their tendencies towards tears, she added: ‘You believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself and you reminded me of the reason I said yes to Strictly, to push myself out of my comfort zone and most importantly to have FUN! We’ve laughed uncontrollably, we’ve cried A LOT (mostly me 🥲) but most importantly, we’ve been there for each other when we’ve needed it the most and we’ve given our everything every single week.’
‘This experience is unlike anything I will ever experience again. We were thrown together as strangers and we will leave with a bond and a friendship that will never be matched.’
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Ellie also shared that she had never met anyone ‘who is as passionate about what they do’ as Vito.
‘Watching you dance whether it’s with me on Saturday night, in the professional group numbers or even just messing about in the training studio, it’s just so joyous to watch. You have an infectious energy and a true heart of gold. You are what life is all about.’
Moving onto the most emotional part of her tribute to her partner (get the tissues ready), the TV star thanked him and admitted: ‘With you by my side I felt like I could conquer anything I put my mind to.’
She continued: ‘You have changed my life and for that I will never be able to repay you. All that I can do is say thank you. I feel like the luckiest person in the world that I got to make these memories and share this experience with you.
‘You are the reason we lifted that glitterball trophy and you are the reason why my life has changed for the better!’
Ellie then signed off by writing, ‘love you always partner ❤️’.
Vito was equally emotional in his response, admitting that he was ‘crying’ – but ‘tears of happiness’.
‘Thank you for have trusted me [sic], because without your trust none of what we did would have been possible 🙏 I didn’t make you shine, and I didn’t really do anything special… What I did I have just help[ed] you to see yourself for what you really are!’ the dancer wrote.
‘I saw the light in you since the first moment and you were shining already during our meeting day. You were just not able to see it, to recognise it and to appreciate you [sic] real beauty, and I think that every person deserves to see the light 😊 I have just opened your eyes, because you were a bit afraid to see inside you… but look at you today ☺️🙌.’
Concluding his message, he vowed: ‘I have enjoyed and loved every single day and week we had.. and.. this is just the beginning Lulú 🦋’
Others were touched by Ellie’s post, including her fellow competitors, with former tennis pro Annabel Croft commenting: ‘A huge congratulations again Ellie 🙌🎉🤗 xxx’
‘Beyond proud. So fab watching you grow and shine! Love you and can’t to see dance with you on tour,’ added fellow Strictly finalist Layton.
‘I’d happily be yours and Bobby’s warm up act lols 😅 xxx’ he quipped.
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‘Dancing Queen 😍❤️,’ wrote Ellie’s former Corrie co-star Brooke Vincent, while last year’s finalist Helen Skelton shared: ‘Loved watching you both 🙌🙌’
On Monday, the couple appeared on This Morning, when co-host Josie Gibson hailed their’magic’ connection and questioned directly whether the relationship rumours were genuine.
They both started laughing, as Ellie said: ‘Honestly, we’ve just been having the most amazing time dancing, and we built a really strong bond and a friendship that will last forever.’
Vito added: ‘I wanted to say that word, I love that word! We had a beautiful bond. When you connect – I am a very “first impression” person, and when we met we had that feeling that we knew each other since we were born! I’m so, so lucky to have you in my life!’
However, it wasn’t until Josie’s co-host Craig Doyle quipped that it was ‘one hundred percent a romance’ that the two both started laughing again and explicitly addressed the question, insisting: ‘No!’
Ellie added: ‘We’ve been through so much together… We’re lucky to have the bond we’ve got, and we’ll be friends for life.’