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SYDNEY — Basketball star Lauren Jackson is coming out of retirement again in a bid to make the Australian team and compete at a fifth Olympics.

The 42-year-old three-time WNBA MVP was included in Australia's 26-player squad on Wednesday, and is widely tipped to make the final 12 for the Opals at the Olympics.

Jackson retired for the second time in February after helping Australia qualify for the Paris Olympics with a win over Germany in Brazil, revealing she struggled to spend so much time away from her two young sons.

The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Wednesday reported Jackson had come to an agreement with the basketball federation to help cover the travel and caring costs for her boys, aged 7 and 5, to travel with her for training camps and the Olympics.

Jackson turns 43 on May 11 and the Paris Games start July 26. The Opals, who missed the medal rounds in Tokyo in 2021, are grouped with Canada, Nigeria and host France.

She said after Australia qualified that she'd told Basketball Australia she couldn't go to Paris unless she had support for her children.

She told the Sydney Morning Herald at the time she's a single mother and it ''breaks my heart every time I leave them.''

Jackson, who won four consecutive Olympic medals starting with a silver at Sydney in 2000, is in a squad that includes 11 members of the team that took bronze at the World Cup in 2022.

''It's always an exciting time to announce an Olympic squad and I congratulate all the athletes,'' Opals coach Sandy Brondello said. ''They all know what it means to play for Australia and they all want the opportunity to represent their country at an Olympics. Our squad is full of exceptional talent and they will make the decision to pick a final 12 very difficult.''

Jackson capped off an incredible comeback at the World Cup in 2022, helping the host nation win a bronze medal. She scored 30 points in that game to help Australia rout Canada 95-65.

She had retired from playing in 2016 after knee injuries derailed her career, missing the Rio Olympics. She slowly returned, playing in a domestic Australian league the last few years.

Her illustrious WNBA career ended in 2012 with her walking away as one of the best players in league history.


AP Summer Olympics: