Britney Griner has officially spoken for the first time since returning to the United States after a 10-month stint in Russian detention.
The Olympic Gold Medalist took to Instagram on Friday December 16th to share a message thanking her fans and supporters for all their well-wishes during her time in detainment.
“It feels so good to be home!” Griner wrote in her post. “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 was detained by Russian officials while entering the country last February, after they discovered vape cartridges containing oil derived from cannabis in her belongings. The U.S. declared her wrongfully detained in May, vowing an aggressive approach to securing her return. Despite these efforts, the player was sentenced to nine years in custody by a Russian court in August, and transferred to a remote labor camp in early November, facing harsh, freezing conditions.
Thankfully, a negotiation was reached just one month later, and Griner’s release back to the United States was secured. President Joe Biden revealed that the basketball star’s return came only after what he described as “painstaking and intense negotiations.”
“This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release,” the President said.
In her statement, the first post she’s made to social media since returning to the United States on December 9th, Griner expressed extreme gratitude to the Biden administration for their continued efforts to secure her release.
“President Biden, you brought me home and I know you are committed to bringing Paul Whelan and all Americans home too,” Griner wrote. “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.”
Lastly, amid plans to enjoy the holidays with her wife and family, Griner declared plans to promptly return to the sport she loves, revealing that she intends to rejoin her Pheonix Mercury teammates in the upcoming WNBA season.
“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.”
Take a look at Griner’s full statement below: