(WJW) — WNBA player Brittney Griner has broken her silence since her return home from Russia Dec. 9.
Griner’s return to the United States in a dramatic prisoner swap with Russia for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, marked the culmination of a 10-month ordeal that captivated world attention, a saga that landed at the intersection of sports, politics, race and gender identity — and wartime diplomacy.
Griner had for years been known to fans of women’s basketball — college player of the year, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA all-star who dominated her sport. But her arrest on drug-related charges at a Moscow airport in February elevated her profile in ways neither she nor her supporters would have ever hoped for, making her by far the most high-profile American to be jailed abroad.
In an Instagram post on Friday, she said 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,” Griner said. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone for your help.”
While she’s transitioning back home to enjoy the holidays with her family, she also shared her future basketball plans.
“I intend to play basketball for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season, and in doing so, I look forward to being able to say ‘thank you’ to those of you who advocated, wrote, and posted for me in person soon,” she said.
She acknowledged and thanked President Joe Biden for his work to get her home, adding that she’ll work to help bring home Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who has been detained in Russia for four years on suspicion of being a spy.
“I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you,” she said. “I also encourage everyone that played a part in bringing me home to continue their efforts to bring all Americans home. Every family deserves to be whole.”
Griner has been staying in a hotel at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio since her return. She’s reunited with family members, including her wife Cherelle.
The Mercury open the season on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19. The teams’ first home game is two days later against the Chicago Sky.