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Penny Taylor on post basketball life

Penny Taylor celebrates Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

It's been just over three months since Penny Taylor checked out of basketball, ending a stellar career that spanned 20 years; after spending more than half her life dominating courts around the world, Taylor is content.

"The biggest adjustment was the lack of routine" she tells ESPN.

"When you are a player you always have something to do, somewhere to be and someplace to travel to. It's been really nice doing what I want, taking the time to consider my options, find out what interests me outside of basketball."

While she says the intention is to stay involved in basketball in some capacity, and remain knowledgeable about the game, the first foray into her new life is to go back to the books.

"I've enrolled in a nutrition course. I'm interested in studying how it can help an athlete and how it affects their lives."

Taylor will no doubt approach her new interest with the same zeal and commitment she showed as a player, but the former WNBA, WNBL and Opals star meanwhile is putting in some serious beach time and relaxing with her mini-Schnauzer 'Messi' (fittingly named after another sporting great).

Some athletes struggle with the transition from professional sport to a regular life, but Taylor has no regrets.

"I wouldn't change anything about my career. I took the best way possible for me and gave it everything I had".

"I played with and against some of the best in the world" she says, listing Lauren Jackson, Sandy Brondello and Michelle Timms as those she admired.

When ESPN asked whom she ranked as the greatest she had shared a court with, she nominated Phoenix Mercury teammate and four-time U.S. Olympic gold medal winner Diana Taurasi because "she has more fire, passion, vicious grit and love for the game than any player I've played with, or against".

"She never ever gives up, which made for some painful games when she was on the opposing team."

In a career full of highlights, Taylor struggles to identify a particular moment that stands out.

"Winning was always my goal and there were wins all over the world. The world champs in 2006, the wins in Italy, Turkey, they were all great moments. I guess the WNBA championships are really close to my heart; what went into achieving that, not just from a physical aspect but from a mental one as well."

Olympic gold eluded Taylor after silver medals from Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

The stage was set for a fairy-tale finale at Rio 2016, but Taylor is pragmatic about falling short.

"Gold is special" she told ESPN. "To win Olympic gold, everything has to go right, along with a little bit of luck. We did our best in Athens and Beijing and it wasn't enough; then we gave our all in Rio but we didn't do well. We move on, I don't dwell on it."

The Rio Olympics were not to be the final moment in the spotlight, with Phoenix Mercury through to the WNBA playoffs and a shot at a fourth championship. The Mercury bowed out in the semi-finals to Minnesota, but a last home court appearance gave the fans a chance to give Taylor the hero's send-off she deserved after 13 seasons in the WNBA and three titles with the Mercury.

It was the fond farewell that Taylor's Australian fans had been denied, when she headed back overseas after a stint back in the WNBL for the 2014-15 season; but the celebration of 25 years of elite basketball in Dandenong this month provided the perfect opportunity for the Rangers to bring their star export home.

Home has many meanings to Penny Taylor -- "I have a few versions - Phoenix, LA, I have lots of friends in the States after spending so many years there; places I've played all over the world that mean a lot to me, but Melbourne is also home, it's where my family is" - so her appearance as the special guest for the quarter-century celebrations is another moment to cherish for Taylor.

"It makes me so proud; Dandenong has made huge strides in creating opportunities for the players. The improvement in player development, in knowledge and the chance for players to make basketball a career; it's come a long way."

Of the league where it all started for Penny Taylor 20 years ago, she has a positive outlook.

"There are still things to work on but back when I got my first contract, I still had to work to support my basketball. Now there are possibilities for players to commit all their time to their game, to work on being the best players they can be, and that's a good thing."

"I love the fact that my 9-year-old niece can see that it's a positive thing for women to be passionate and competitive about their sport - that it can now be a career".

"That's inspiring."