December 2, 2023
Shakira Austin undergoes successful surgery on left hip
Mystics center expected to recover fully within four to six months
The Washington Mystics announced on Friday that center Shakira Austin had a successful surgery to repair a tear on her left hip labrum. She is expected to recover fully within four to six months after the surgery. The team will provide updates as necessary.
“Nothing to a kid like me. I’ll be back … and better.” Austin said on Twitter, now known as the X.
Austin was having a breakout season for the Mystics after being named to the WNBA All-Rookie Team in 2022. She played like a candidate for the Most Improved Player Award and was under consideration for the WNBA All-Star game this year. But, during a game against the New York Liberty on June 25, Austin suffered a left hip strain, which forced her to miss 16 games, and was the first major injury of her professional career.
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After returning to the Mystics in mid-August, Austin re-injured her left hip on August 31, which prevented her from playing for the rest of the 2023 season. During her exit interviews with reporters in Sept., she shared that she had a tough time mentally during the rehab process. Despite this, she mentioned that her hip was starting to improve.
“[Before the injury], I was on a pretty good run, if I must say,” Austin said in Sept. “I was feeling really good, confident in myself, and I was figuring stuff out. So for me, I still have a lot to prove. I have nothing right now. I mean, I’m 0-4 in the playoffs, that’s all I know. So yes, I’m focused on getting my health back. But there’s a lot that I want to take on for next season, and there’s a lot of goals that I still feel are very reachable.”
“You just try to be better throughout the whole [rehab] experience,” she added, “[and] come out a better person, a better teammate, a better athlete.”
Mystics head coach Eric Thibault explained that the team didn’t want to rush Austin’s return, to avoid a more severe injury in the long term.
“The most important thing I think with her is just thinking about her long term,” Thibault said in Sept. “… That’s why we didn’t try to rush her back or do anything crazy because all of a sudden, you’re sitting here and you’re looking at the future and you’re going, that’s one of the most important pieces going forward is making sure she’s right and confident. … Injuries are tricky, not just what they do to you physically, but what they do to you mentally, so we’ll make sure she’s supported from all angles as she works to get back to 100% and then get better.”
Throughout the season, the Washington Mystics, led by first-year head coach Thibault, dealt with many injuries to key players, such as Elena Delle Donne (back) and Ariel Atkins (nose), and were eventually swept by the New York Liberty in the first round of the playoffs. They finished with a 19-21 record and were the seventh seed in the postseason.
Since winning their first-ever WNBA championship in 2019, the Washington Mystics have been plagued by injuries and been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for three out of the past four years. This offseason, the team has four players who are unrestricted free agents: Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, Tianna Hawkins, and Kristi Toliver, who recently joined the Phoenix Mercury as an associate head coach.
Written by Aya Abdeen
Aya Abdeen is a student in sports journalism at Arizona State University and has been a contributing writer for The Next Hoops since December 2022. Her work has also appeared on AZPreps365.