The lure of a second world title has brought Australian basketball legend Lauren Jackson out of international retirement.
Jackson, 41, will join an Opals team camp in Canberra next week ahead of the September World Cup in Sydney, nine years after she last played for Australia.
She captained Australia to its only world title in 2006.
Jackson was the event ambassador for the World Cup and her addition to the Opals squad is a massive boost for the event.
In a remarkable comeback story, Australia’s greatest basketballer will end her nine-year international retirement to join the Opal’s World Cup squad https://t.co/IjsR7LpZjv
— AussieHoopla (@aussiehoopla) June 21, 2022
Her inclusion in the Opals squad was confirmed on Tuesday evening and is a key step towards Jackson’s potential international comeback.
Jackson retired before the Rio Olympics because of debilitating knee soreness.
She returned to domestic competition early this year on the back of a rigorous fitness regime and has boasted outstanding form.
“I never expected to get to this point so every day I get past here is a blessing and I truly feel like one of the luckiest people in the world to be getting another shot after the way my career ended,” Jackson told News Corp.
“There’s a little bit of apprehension. I’m definitely a little bit scared and excited, but who knows what will happen with my body.
Lauren Jackson joining the Opals squad like…
— Hayley Wildes (@wildes_hayley) June 21, 2022
“I’ve been very cautious from day dot, not to get over excited or put any pressure on myself. It’s been a really long journey, but every milestone that I’ve hit I’ve gone ‘I didn’t think I’d get to this point’ .
“It kind of feels like I’m a kid again vying for a position.
“When I found out I made it into the squad I had a moment of shock. It’s reality now and getting into the mind frame again of competing to wear the green and gold again.”
Despite retiring 6️⃣ years ago, Australian Opals great Lauren Jackson has left the door wide open for a cheeky return at the @FIBAWWC later this year.
Should she make her Australian comeback? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/HaPH78Lbtw
— ESPN Australia & NZ (@ESPNAusNZ) June 16, 2022
Jackson boasts one of the best resumes in Australian sport – a three-time WNBA MVP, four-time WNBL MVP, four-time Olympian for three silver medals and a bronze, five-time WNBL champion and seven-time WNBA All-Star.
Not surprisingly, Jackson is confident she can make a difference if she makes the final cut for the third-ranked Opals’ World Cup team.
“With my size, height and experience in the game I think what I can bring to the team is invaluable in terms of leadership,” she said.
“Once I step foot on a basketball court I’m pretty confident, it just comes naturally and has always just been part of who I am.
“I know I can bring that confidence to the girls, I can help them and that’s where I think I can be helpful.
“In terms of my talent and ability to get out there and score buckets, people know I can do that, but I think it’s the other stuff that’s going to make a difference.”