Elena Delle Donne Returns for Mystics’ Home Opener

Two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player and face of the Washington Mystics Elena Delle Donne left coaches, teammates and fans alike worried about her future in the WNBA after her dramatic exit from Game 2 of the 2019 WNBA Finals.

After experiencing back spasms, Delle Donne left the court just three and half minutes into Game 2 to see an athletic trainer. Although the Mystics were hopeful for a mid-game return, Delle Donne was ruled out for the remainder of the game in the fourth quarter. Delle Donne, however, persevered through back pain caused by herniated discs for Games 3-5, bringing home the 2019 National Championship for the Mystics against the Connecticut Sun.

Riding on the 2019 season high, the Washington Mystics entered the 2020 season looking to defend their title. With the loss of Delle Donne due to back surgery, the team fell short in the first round of the playoffs.

With Delle Donne out for the entirety of the 2021 season as well, the Mystics did not secure a playoff spot. Riddled with injuries, the team struggled to find a rhythm during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Unsatisfied with their underwhelming results from the previous two seasons, the team trained hard in the offseason, motivated to regain their championship title alongside Delle Donne upon her return for the 2022 season.

Delle Donne recounted her two back surgeries and rehabilitation process in an interview with The Washington Post this May. Enduring constant, debilitating pain, Delle Donne considered giving up basketball altogether.

In the same interview, she shared that each time she reached the conclusion that she was going to retire, she wondered, “How … does my story end here?”

Her drive to play basketball and desire to continue her story pushed her through two years of physical rehabilitation. After grueling preparation for this exact moment — the 2022 season opener — Delle Donne had high hopes.

The Washington Mystics kicked off their 2022 season with a home game against the Indiana Fever.

Junior Jadyn Donovan, a key player on the MaxPreps No. 1 nationally-ranked Sidwell girls’ basketball team, attended the season opener at the Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington.

“The atmosphere was amazing, as always, and everyone can obviously see the growth in support for the women’s game since the last season,” Donovan said.

Delle Donne contributed significantly on both ends of the court, scoring 21 points offensively and securing six defensive rebounds.

“It was wonderful to see Elena play and impressive to see how well she played coming back from her injury,” Donovan said.

Donovan, however, also noted changes to Delle Donne’s play style, observing that she was “a lot more careful in her plays and is more of a playmaker, but that doesn’t stop her from hitting every shot she gets.”

The Mystics ended up edging out the Fever 84-70. After this win, Donovan is looking forward to attending more games this season, concluding that the Mystics should have a shot at the National Championship “because they have amazing leaders on the court as well as amazing fans off the court.”

Back with a full roster and arguably one of the best players in the WNBA, the Washington Mystics are hoping to return to their 2019 glory during the 2022 season.