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Griner intends to play this WNBA season after return from Russia

Michael Gonzales / National Basketball Association / Getty

In her first public comments since returning to the United States, WNBA star Brittney Griner thanked supporters who advocated for her return and confirmed she intends to play for the Phoenix Mercury again after spending almost a year detained in Russia.

"It feels so good to be home," Griner wrote in an Instagram post Friday. "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."

A two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA champion, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison in Russia for drug smuggling and possession after customs officials said they found vape canisters with cannabis oil in her luggage in February. She has played with the Russian club UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA offseason since 2014. Griner was freed in a prisoner exchange earlier in December, with the U.S. government releasing Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.

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

The 32-year-old Griner directed part of her message to U.S. President Joe Biden, committing to advocate for the return of other American citizens detained overseas.

"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 wrote.

Griner has spent her entire WNBA career with the Mercury, holding career averages of 17.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, and 1.8 assists.

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