From the moment the world found out WNBA star Brittney Griner was being wrongfully detained in Russia, other than her wife Cherelle Griner, no one has advocated louder for the Phoenix Mercury center’s release than her fellow WNBA players. And as news broke Thursday morning that Brittney was finally on her way home, no one celebrated louder than those same players.
The WNBA has been 100 percent supportive of Brittney and Cherelle throughout her detainment, with the league never failing to acknowledge her importance to the game. WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert issued a statement on the eight-time All-Star’s release.
“There has not been a day over the past ten months where we all haven’t had Brittney Griner on our minds and in our hearts and that has now turned into a collective wave of joy and relief knowing that she will soon be reunited with her family, the WNBA player community, and her friends. BG has shown extraordinary courage and dignity in the face of enormous adversity. The WNBA is grateful beyond measure to the Biden Administration, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, and all those who played a role in bringing BG home today. Our hope is that Paul Whelan and every wrongfully detained American will be returned home safely and as soon as possible.”
One of the WNBA champion’s most vocal supporters has been Dawn Staley, who coached Griner to a second Olympic gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics. The basketball legend tweeted, “God’s grace is SUFFICIENT! @brittneygriner is home! I love you BG!”
Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart, who has supported some of Brittney’s charities in her absence, tweeted, “BG is FREE!!! 294 days and she is coming home!!!”
The Connecticut Sun’s Jonquel Jones echoed many of our sentiments, tweeting, “When I tell you nothing could kill my vibe today! My sis is coming home. BG is FREE.”
Griner’s Mercury teammate Brianna Turner thanked those who have supported her friend through this ordeal, posting, “Thank you to every single person that kept Brittney Griner’s name alive #WEAREBG”
The Baylor alum has received support from all aspects of the sports world including tennis legend and activist Billie Jean King, who thanked the president and his staff, writing, “Brittney Griner is free! After 294 days in Russian captivity, @POTUS negotiated a “one-for-one” prisoner swap. Thank you to President Biden, and to all those who worked so hard to secure her freedom.”
With relations extremely strained between Russia and the U.S., the prisoner swap is also seen as a diplomatic win for the Biden administration. A sentiment echoed by some in politics.
Recently re-elected Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA), celebrated the Griner family, as well as the WNBA star’s team and the league for everything they’ve done throughout this process, tweeting, “This is a great moment for Brittney Griner, her wife, the Phoenix Mercury and the entire WNBA family. Thank you to @POTUS and his administration for all of their tireless work to bring Brittney home.”
“Today, Brittney Griner’s wrongful detention in Russia finally ends and she is on her way home to be reunited with her family. Her release is the product of painstaking negotiations and @POTUS’ commitment to bring home every U.S. citizen wrongfully detained anywhere in the world,” wrote Vice President Kamala Harris.
Former President Barack Obama congratulated the Biden administration for its efforts, tweeting, “Grateful for the long-overdue release of Brittney Griner today from Russian custody. Kudos to @POTUS and his administration for the difficult diplomatic work involved to make it happen. We’re looking forward to having Brittney back home.”
And finally, the Phoenix Mercury, who have been posting a daily tally of how many days Brittney has been detained, provided the best update of the year, tweeting, “No more days. She’s coming home.”
As excited and grateful as we all are at this moment, it’s also very important that we allow Brittney, her family and friends the time and space to process her ordeal her way. Once her plane lands, let’s all take a step back and let Brittney Griner recover.