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Healthy Elena Delle Donne plans to have bigger presence for Mystics

Elena Delle Donne has played more than 30 games in two seasons. In both, she won WNBA MVP. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Elena Delle Donne is looking forward to being fully healthy this season.

The Washington Mystics star, who has dealt with a back injury for the last three seasons, said Monday that she’s as strong as she’s ever been. And she intends to make her presence felt for her team, both on and off the court.

After leading the Mystics to the 2019 WNBA title, Delle Donne missed the 2020 season due to injury. In 2021, she played just three games.

While she played through all of the 2022 season, the team managed her load. She played 25 of 36 games in the regular-season, skipping many of the road games in the first few months of the season.

“Throughout the past few years with my injury, not always traveling or being on the road, not being in each practice, being in and out, [it] was tough to find that presence and the same voice as being there every single day,” she said Monday. “So I’m excited that I’m there now. I’ll be there on the road. I don’t plan to miss any games. It’s different.”

The biggest thing, she said, is just being able to be present with the team throughout the entirety of the season. And she wants to put her near-decade of experience to use.

The Mystics have a roster which includes several veterans but also a number of younger players, including Shakira Austin and Evina Westbrook, who are both entering their second year in the league.

“I’ve been in this league for a while now. I’ve seen a lot of different coverages, different teams,” she said. “I’ve played with some of the greatest players to play this game. So, there’s a lot that I’ve learned and a lot that I feel like I can pass on to the rest of our team.

“And this is such a competitive league that you’ve got to find your way and find who you are as a team and I feel like I can help and my voice will do that.”