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Brittney Griner, who was released from a Russian prison last week and freed in a dramatic high-level prisoner exchange, on Friday said she was “grateful” to be back in the United States and plans to be back on the basketball court for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury this season.

“It feels so good to be home!” Griner posted to Instagram on Friday in her first public statement since her release. “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.

“… 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.”

Griner has been staying with her wife, Cherelle, in a hotel at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, reuniting with family members and deciding what to do with her freedom.

Mercury general manager Jim Pitman, team president Vince Kozar and teammate Diana Taurasi were among those who surprised her on the tarmac in San Antonio, a source told ESPN’s TJ Quinn.

The Mercury open the season on the road against the Los Angeles Sparks on May 19.




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