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Sports world reacts to Brittney Griner’s release from Russia

Dawn Staley coached Brittney Griner and Team USA at the Olympics last summer in Tokyo. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Brittney Griner is coming home, 294 days after she was detained in Russia.

The sports world took to social media to celebrate the news of the WNBA star’s release from custody and imminent return to the United States.

The women’s basketball community took the lead in publicizing Griner’s plight. So after nearly 10 months of voicing their support from afar, players and coaches expressed their joy Thursday morning after President Joe Biden announced the Phoenix Mercury center had been freed in a prisoner exchange.

Top free agent Breanna Stewart tweeted a daily tally of Griner’s time in Russian custody. She ended her count with one final post.

South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley, who coached Griner and Team USA to a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, has supported Griner through her words and through her wardrobe.

Staley’s Instagram and Twitter accounts are full of daily photos of her orange “Free BG” pin, the black block letters standing out against the bright background, and she has donned shirts with a similar message during several of the Gamecocks’ games so far this season.

“God’s grace is SUFFICIENT! Brittney Griner is home!” she tweeted Thursday.

Mercury players also posted about their relief and excitement for their teammate, among them Brianna Turner, Kia Nurse and Shey Peddy, as well as Kaela Davis and Megan Gustafson.

Several of the WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces cheered Griner’s return, including A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray and Aisha Sheppard.

WNBA coaches joined in the celebration, including Chicago Sky coach James Wade and Los Angeles Sparks coach Curt Miller.

“Long overdue but excited she will be home soon,” Miller wrote.

The celebration was not confined to the women’s basketball community.

Tennis icon Billie Jean King thanked Biden and “all those who worked so hard to secure her freedom.”