In her first public statement since arriving back in the US on December 9, Brittney Griner announced that she plans to return to playing basketball in the upcoming 2023 WNBA season.
In her moving Instagram post, Griner thanked everyone who advocated for her release from Russia. She said, “It feels so good to be home! The last 10 months have been a battle at every turn. I dug deep to keep my faith, and it was the love from so many of you that helped keep me going. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”
The queer basketball star also promised to use her platform to advocate for all Americans who are detained abroad and trying to get home. Her remarks reference Paul Whelan, another American who has been detained in Russia since December 2018.
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The 2023 WNBA season begins on May 19, and Griner will be playing for Phoenix Mercury. Regarding the anticipation of having Griner back on the team, Mercury President Vince Kozar told ESPN, “We’ll follow her lead, we’ll do whatever she wants.”
Brittney Griner originally joined the side during the 2013 WNBA draft, and she’s been with the team for eight years. She was a member of the Team USA Olympic basketball team in 2016 when they won gold in Rio de Janeiro, and she is a two-time FIBA Women’s Basketball World Championship gold medalist thanks to wins in 2014 and 2018.
Brittney Griner, welcome back ♥️ pic.twitter.com/B5ogNgnlS3
— WSLAM (@wslam) December 16, 2022
Griner was arrested by Russian authorities in February 2022 after vape cartridges containing less than a gram of cannabis oil were found in her luggage at Moscow’s airport. She was trying to enter Russia to join her club basketball team, and didn’t realise that the substance that was prescribed for medical use in the US was in her luggage.
She was charged with narcotics possession and smuggling and was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russian court. The US maintained that Brittney Griner’s sentence was disproportionate to her crime, but her appeal for a reduced sentence was rejected in October.
After nearly 10 months of being held in Russian custody, the Olympic gold medalist was freed in a prisoner swap earlier this month.
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