Brittney Griner Says She Plans to Return to the WNBA Next Season After Release from Russia

"I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season," Griner said in her first statement since she landed back in the U.S.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 06: Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during the first half in Game Four of the 2021 WNBA semifinals at Footprint Center on October 06, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Brittney Griner. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty

Brittney Griner is planning her return to the WNBA.

On Friday, the 32-year-old Phoenix Mercury star said she intends to play during the next WNBA season in her first statement since she returned to the United States.

"I also want to make one thing very clear," Griner wrote on Instagram. "I intend to play basketball for the WNBA's Phoenix Mercury this season."

Griner continued: "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."

Brianna Turner #21, Skylar Diggins-Smith #4, Kia Nurse #0 and Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury
(L-R) Brianna Turner, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Kia Nurse and Brittney Griner. Ethan Miller/Getty

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Griner's future in the WNBA was uncertain before her statement on Friday, as her agent, Lindsay Kagawa Colas told ESPN there was "no timetable on her return" earlier in the week.

"She's reintegrating into a world that has changed for her now. From a pure security standpoint, she's not going to be able to move in the world the way she did," Colas told ESPN.

Before her arrest in February, Griner was a six-time WNBA All-Star, a WNBA champion, a 2-time Olympic gold medalist and played multiple seasons for Russia's basketball team UMMC Yekaterinburg.

The 6-foot-9 center averaged 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.8 assists in her career, making her one of the league's brightest stars.

Kelsey Plum #10 of the Las Vegas Aces drives to the basket against Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury during Game Two of the 2021 WNBA Playoffs semifinals at Michelob ULTRA Arena on September 30, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Mercury defeated the Aces 117-91.
Ethan Miller/Getty

After she reunited with her wife Cherelle and other family members in San Antonio, Griner participated in her first basketball workout in 10 months on Sunday — and made her first move a dunk. She had opted against getting access to a basketball while she was in prison, thinking it would be too emotionally difficult.

Earlier this month, the WNBA released the schedule for its 2023 season. The Phoenix Mercury will begin their season on the road next year, taking on the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19.

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