Brittney Griner Confirms Plan to Play in WNBA This Season: ‘I Look Forward to Being Able to Say Thank You’

The Phoenix Mercury basketball star was released from Russia last week in a highly contested prisoner swap with Viktor Bout

Brittney Griner confirms on Instagram she will play WNBA 2023
Brittney Griner via Instagram

Just a week after being released from Russian detainment, Brittney Griner said she intends to return to the ball court this season. On Friday, the WNBA star of the Phoenix Mercury left from a medical facility in Texas on a trip back home to Arizona. 

“I also want to make one thing very clear: 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,” shared the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist in a Friday morning Instagram post.

Griner’s announcement comes just a week after she was released in a prison swap between Russia and the U.S. in exchange for Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer known in some circles by the nickname “The Merchant of Death.” 

“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,” wrote Griner. Her Instagram post showed her exiting a plane and entering the embrace of her wife Cherelle Griner.

“I am grateful to each person who advocated for me, especially my wife, Cherelle Griner, my family, Lindsay Kagawa Colas and Casey Wasserman and my whole team at Wasserman, Vince Kozar and the Phoenix Mercury, the players of the WNBA, and my entire WNBA family, Terri Jackson and the WNBPA staff, my Russian legal team Maria Blagovolina and Alex Boykov, the leaders, activists, and grassroots organizations, Gov. Richardson and Mickey Bergman of the Richardson Center, the Bring Our Families Home Campaign, Roger Carstens and the SPEHA team, and of course, a special thank you to President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken and the entire Biden-Harris Administration,” she continued.

Griner stayed at the Brooke Army Medical Center to undergo routine evaluation. On Feb. 17, Russian authorities detained Griner and accused her carrying hashish oil in her luggage at an airport near Moscow. At the time, Griner was heading to Russia join her off-season team UMMC Yekaterinburg. After a 10-month imprisonment, President Joe Biden announced Dec. 8 that Griner would be returning home.

“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too. I will use my platform to do whatever I can to help you. 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 said.