By Ben Kellerman and Doyinsola Oladipo
NEW YORK (Reuters) – American basketball star Brittney Griner stepped onto the red carpet at the star-studded Met Gala on Monday, embracing a larger spotlight months after returning home from detention in a Russian penal colony.
The twice Olympic champion has pledged to advocate for the release of other Americans detained abroad after she was freed from Russia in a high-profile prisoner exchange after nearly 10 months of detention.
U.S. officials said she was wrongly detained and was being used as a political pawn after she was taken into custody at a Moscow airport and subsequently convicted on drug charges.
“I was able to come home,” Griner told Vogue at the gala. “A lot of families that don’t get the availability, you know, that I have with media so every day just being there, being a voice for those families so they’re not feeling left behind or forgotten at all.”
Griner sat for a press conference with her Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) team last week for the first time since she returned home, announcing she and the Phoenix Mercury would partner with Bring Our Families Home to champion the cause.
On Saturday she appeared at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner with her wife, Cherelle.
American designer Calvin Klein styled the couple for Monday’s star-studded event to benefit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.
“It is everything, to be here with my wife able to be here it means so much,” Griner said.
Griner was one of a handful of high-profile athletes in attendance, with 23-times major winner Serena Williams announcing she was pregnant with her second child.
Twenty-times Grand Slam winner Roger Federer served as a co-chair of the event while China’s twice Olympic champion freestyle skier Eileen Gu was also in attendance.
(Reporting by Ben Kellerman and Doyinsola Oladipo in New York, writing by Amy Tennery; Editing by Stephen Coates)