United States centre Brittney Griner Aug 6, 2021; Saitama, Japan; Team United States centre Brittney Griner (15) handles the ball against Team Serbia centre Tina Krajisnik (33) in the women’s basketball semifinal during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kareem Elgazzar-USA TODAY Sports

WNBA superstar Brittney Griner faced a traumatic few months after she was arrested and spent 10 months in Russian captivity when authorities found a small amount of prescription cannabis oil in her luggage at the airport. But after the difficult situation, she’s now back. And when she made her emotional return to the basketball court for a WNBA preseason game on Friday, there was one moment that was particularly special to her: the national anthem.

Following the preseason showdown with the Los Angeles Sparks, Brittney Griner was asked about how she was feeling as she made her return to the court for her first competitive game in 18 months after the traumatic experience in Russia, where she essentially served as a political prisoner.

In response to the question, Griner opened up about what it meant to hear The Star Spangled Banner play before the game.

“Hearing the national anthem, it definitely hit different,” Griner said according to ABC News. “It’s like when you go for the Olympics, you’re sitting there, about to get gold put on your neck, the flags are going up and the anthem is playing, it just hits different.

“Being here today … it means a lot.”

This is particularly surprising given that Griner once suggested that the national anthem should no longer be played before sporting events. And her recent comments drew plenty of reactions on Twitter.

Griner will play her first regular season game since her return on Friday in a nationally televised showdown with the Los Angeles Sparks.

[ABC News]