Candace Parker And Anna Petrakova Were Teammates Before They Fell In Love

A legend is retiring from the WNBA. On April 28, Candace Parker, who's been in the league for 16 seasons (and won three championships), announced that she's stepping away from playing in the pros.

“I promised I’d never cheat the game & that I’d leave it in a better place than I came into it,” the 39-year-old Las Vegas Aces forward wrote on Instagram. “My HEART & body knew, but I needed to give my mind time to accept it.”

But Candace said that this is just the beginning for her, and gave a subtle nod to her wife, Anna Petrakova, in her message. “I’m attacking business, private equity, ownership (I will own both a NBA & WNBA team), broadcasting, production, boardrooms, beach volleyball, dominoes (sorry babe it’s going to get more real) with the same intensity & focus I did basketball,” she wrote.

Candace’s news has raised a lot of questions about her future and life off the court. Here’s what you need to know about her wife, Anna Petrakova.

Candace and Anna were teammates first.

Like many professional women’s basketball players, Candace played overseas during the WNBA offseason. She first met Anna in 2012, when they both played on UMMC Ekaterinburg in Anna's home country of Russia, according to People. The two were friends for three years before becoming a couple.

"We literally denied it to ourselves for three years I think,” Anna told TIME, adding that neither imagined they'd one day get married to another woman. “Then, we just finally accepted it. That was a long, hard process.”

The two first kissed one night after practice. "There were some drunken nights," Anna told the outlet. "And it would just go further than we would think."

Of their first kiss, Anna recalled, "We're scared, and we're like, 'What the hell was that?' You are kind of scared to look each other in the eye and then you're like, 'Okay, well, what are we? We're lying to ourselves here.'"

Anna previously played basketball at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she learned to speak English. She was also named the Sun Belt Conference's Player of the Year for the 2003-2004 season.

Anna is an Olympian.

After leaving the University of Louisiana, Anna went pro with the club Nur in Kazan, Russia. She ultimately played for several teams in her career, including Spartak, CSKA Moscow, Chevakata, Dynamo Kursk, and UMMC Ekaterinburg (where she met Candace), per the International Basketball Federation.

Anna competed with the Russian national team at the 2012 summer Olympics in London. Her team placed fourth that year, according to, while the U.S. took gold. Anna later participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics torch relay on the way to Sochi, Russia, per People.

Anna retired in 2017, later becoming an assistant coach for the Russian National Team, according to the outlet.

They secretly tied the knot in 2019.

The couple quietly married in 2019, but didn’t share the news until two years later. Candace proposed during a family trip to Mexico on a boat, where her daughter Lailaa held a cake that read, "Will you marry us?"

"She knows that Lailaa is the center of my entire universe," Candace told TIME. "So we come in a package deal. It was important for the dynamic duo to be upgraded to the Big Three."

But the couple kept things secret because of Russia’s anti-LGBTQ policies, according to the outlet. Russia’s Supreme Court has ruled that the international LGBT movement is an “extremist organization,” per the Human Rights Watch. Under Russian criminal law, participating in an extremist organization is punishable by up to 12 years in jail.

They’re moms to Lailaa and Airr, and are expecting their third child.

Anna and Candace keep busy at home. They’re parents to daughter Lailaa, 14 (whom Candace shares with her ex-husband, former NBA player Sheldon Williams), and son Airr, 2.

And now, Candace and Anna are adding to their crew: They’re expecting another baby this spring. In December, the couple made the announcement in a hilarious basketball-themed Instagram post. “After four years in the game, we are focused on building our roster,” they wrote. “We know this rookie will add to our depth chart and contribute versatility to our team. The rookie will join our current roster consisting of a shooter, point forward, rebounder, and little Tikes rim attacker!”

They came out publicly for their children.

Ultimately, Candace and Anna revealed their marriage in 2021. “2 years ago, I got to marry my best friend in front of our close family and friends,” Candace wrote in a sweet Instagram post. “My heart could have exploded. I cried like a baby….To know me or you is to know our love. This journey hasn’t been easy. I am proud of us and what we have built and who we have grown to become both individually and together.”

It was important to Candace to publicly share her marriage for her daughter, she told TIME.

“I always tell my daughter to be herself,” she said. “I always tell my daughter to be proud of who she is. And I always tell my daughter to speak for herself and speak up for those that she loves. And I can’t say that to her if I’m not doing it myself. I don’t want her to ever think that I’m ashamed or not proud of our family. That was a step that we had to take. But we had to take it on our own terms.”

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