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Brittney Griner's wife Cherelle could 'finally exhale' after WNBA star was released from a Russian prison

Brittney Griner and her wife Cherelle are still in the process of "figuring out" how to move on from the last 10 months of the ordeal of being apart. "Blending back into one" has been a tricky experience, but one that the pair are working on solving together.

This photo provided by the U.S. Army shows WNBA star Brittney Griner, right, being greeted by wife Cherelle.
Image: WNBA star Brittney Griner is greeted by wife Cherelle following her release

Brittney Griner's wife Cherelle has revealed how she could "finally exhale" after the WNBA star was dramatically released from a Russian prison.

The Phoenix Mercury center had been playing for the Russian Premier League basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg during her offseason when she was stopped at an airport, charged with smuggling illegal drugs, tried and then sentenced to nine years in a Russian prison colony.

It was a long 10 months for Griner's wife Cherelle, who had no choice but to continue living, and continue fighting for Brittney.

"I was hopeless a lot of days," Cherelle told People. "You try and stay grounded, but I'm human. Still, I would never completely give up hope."

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Griner was released in a prisoner swap for Russian citizen Viktor Bout, a former arms dealer

All the praying, pleading and support from friends and colleagues invested in the cause led to the case arriving at the White House's door. It was on December 8 that Cherelle, along with the rest of the world, heard President Biden announce that Brittney had boarded a plane out of Russia and was heading home to the US.

It was a strangely tumultuous moment: "I had thought about that moment a thousand times, and I thought I would be full of tears," she says. "But I was overwhelmingly happy. It was the first time I was able to finally exhale, thank God, I thought this is such a great day.'"

Moving on

Since returning to their shared home in Arizona, the couple have been trying to settle in - and there's been a lot to catch up on.

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WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for a hearing
Image: Cherelle could only communicate with letters while Brittney was imprisoned

"The first night, we didn't sleep at all," Cherelle says, laughing. "We just talked all night long and all morning. And it was so good to be able to do it without three weeks in between the conversation, because for 10 months we were passing letters. It was great to have that dialogue back and forth."

Though the path ahead on how to reconnect might not be clear, Cherelle admits they have been working together on solving it: "It's a new journey for us. And so we're definitely trying to figure out how we blend back as one."

The sheer volume of emotions - joy, melancholy, fatigue, euphoria - have taken their toll on the pair, and moving on, though they will be doing it together, will take time and patience.

For now, Cherelle and Brittney will spend their time living the life they missed out on this year, delving into holiday traditions, celebrating birthdays, slowly returning to some semblance of normality.

What's next?

Brittney Griner (AP)
Image: The 32-year-old has vowed to resume her playing career

Most recently, the pair was ramping up for their annual chocolate chip and white macadamia nut cookie-baking contest.

"BG's actually turned out better than mine last year. I have to redeem myself," says Cherelle, laughing.

The next biggest question to arise regards her return to basketball. Griner has made it clear she "intends to play for the Phoenix Mercury" when the new season unfolds on May 19. The team's first home game is two days later against the Chicago Sky.

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