Brittney Griner Aug 8, 2021; Saitama, Japan; United States centre Brittney Griner (15) reacts against Japan in the women’s basketball gold medal match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Saitama Super Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past year, WNBA superstar Brittney Griner has gone through a lot after she was arrested in Russia and spent 10 months in captivity after authorities found a small amount of prescription hashish oil in her luggage. But she’s now back, and Friday, she made her emotional return to the court for a preseason game. And one particular moment was particularly special to her: the national anthem.

During a postgame press conference following her return to the court on Friday night, Brittney Griner opened up about what it meant to her to hear The Star Spangled Banner play after everything she’s gone through, effectively serving as a political prisoner to Russia before the United States secured her release.

“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.”

Griner may have been a little bit rusty after missing all of last season, but she still managed to score 10 points in her 17 minutes on the court. And she was even able to throw down a dunk during pregame warmups.

She’ll make her official return to the WNBA next week when the Phoenix Mercury takes on the Los Angeles Sparks in a nationally televised contest to open the season.

[ABC News]