The guard left for the Atlanta Dream on awkward terms after helping the Sun to the WNBA Finals in 2019. General manager and coach Curt Miller said Williams requested a trade, but she denied wanting to leave Connecticut in a long, now-deleted Instagram post to fans that suggested it came down to money.
Williams went on to earn her first All-Star selection in 2021 with Atlanta, but the team didn’t re-sign her after an off-the-court incident forced the WNBA to impose a two-game suspension on her and a teammate.
“You know, (the Sun) always had my back and never judged me no matter what situation I’ve been in,” Williams said, via Khristina Williams of Athletes Unlimited.
“We had some hiccups with me leaving. But that was never based off loyalty. That was just based on finances. Just going out into that water, going to make more money (in Atlanta).”
For a number of reasons, this free agency was different for the 27-year-old.
“Going into this year the biggest thing for me was going somewhere where I knew the people that I was going to be around were going to have my back and my best interest in mind. To be able to come back on that team with those same players was a no-brainer for me. I’m super excited.”
Her old teammates look forward to having her too.
Curt Miller revealed that Sun veterans like WNBA Most Valuable Player Jonquel Jones recruited her back and convinced Miller that she was the missing piece they needed.
Connecticut hasn’t gone as far in the WNBA Playoffs since Williams’ most recent season there in 2019, though they’ve come pretty close. She sees a chance for redemption and to extend the Sun’s window to shine.
“We talked to Courtney,” Miller said Wednesday via ESPN. “Expectations on what it means to be a Connecticut Sun (player) and come back into our culture. Certainly, we’ve had some great conversations in this free-agency period.”
Miller is referring to the altercation that occurred at an Atlanta-area club in May and led to the Dream not inviting her back. The video went viral on social media, and Williams is regretful and ready for a fresh start.
“Just going through all of that taught me that I have to be more mindful,” Williams said. “We all have a platform. And when you do certain things, people can take it a certain way. But once it’s out there, it’s out there and you can’t take it back. At the end of the day it went the way that it went. I had to take that on the chin because I put it out there thinking it would be one way and people took it another way.
“You can’t control how people take things. All I can do is control what I can control. It was a learning experience for me.”
What she can control is her play, for one.
Williams averaged a career-best 16.5 points and 6.8 rebounds last season in her first All-Star campaign. With guidance from former teammates Jones, Alyssa Thomas and WNBA veteran DeWanna Bonner (with whom she hasn’t played with yet) Williams will be back in a great, winning environment.
“There’s a trust from Courtney to us that we will put her in position to be successful. I think being back around what she would say are her sisters, and the love that she feels not only from the veteran players but our fan base and our franchise, there’s a comfort level coming off the year she had to be back with this family,” Miller said.
“I love coaching Courtney. She’s easy to coach and she loves the game.”