Hearts across the country shattered at the announcement of Candace Parker’s retirement. A three-time WNBA champion, MVP and Olympic gold medalist, she’s completely restructured the boundaries around what it means to be a successful female athlete, giving permission for so many women watching her to do the same. While we bid farewell through teary eyes, we’re grateful for the greatness we got to witness along the way.

As she embarks on this next chapter of her life, many wonder who she’ll be doing it alongside. Married since December 2019, Parker’s partner Anna Petrakova has been a grounding force in the superstar athlete’s life. Here’s everything we know about Candace Parker’s wife, from how they met to where they are now.

Who Is Anna Petrakova?

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Parker isn’t the only one in her relationship with great athletic ability. In early 2002, Anna Petrakova relocated from Russia to the USA, playing basketball for the University of Louisiana with little knowledge of the English language. She also played on Russia’s Women’s National Basketball Team in the 2012 Summer Olympics and was the first-ever athlete to be named the Sun Belt Conference’s Player of the Year, though this doesn’t come as much of a surprise: her father, Viktor Petrakov, played on then-Soviet Union’s national basketball team.

In 2012, Petrakova joined UMMC Ekaterinburg, where Parker had been playing during the WNBA offseason. The two had an instant chemistry that was palpable, though the two certainly tried to deny it for as long as they could.

Parker Was Once Married to NBA Player Sheldon Williams

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Before there was Petrakova, Parker thought she already had her happily ever after. Having first made his name while playing for Duke University, 6’9 forward Sheldon Williams was a staple in the NBA between the years 2006-2012. Both college basketball stars, Parker and former NBA player Sheldon Williams married in 2008 and split in 2016, citing “irreconcilable differences” for the demise of the relationship. 

The ending of the marriage came as a shock to many, as the couple had just invested in a luxurious mansion in Encino, Los Angeles. Luckily, the 37-year-old kept her heart open to love, meeting her current wife not long after their seperation.

The Two Wed In Secret

Not only was their wedding lowkey, but so was coming out as queer. In fact, Petrakova shared in an interview with TIME that she and Parker were surprised by the romantic turn their relationship took. “We literally denied it to ourselves for three years, I think,” she said. “Then we just finally accepted it. That was a long, hard process.”

Parker added that it was her daughter who planted the seed of them coming out publicly, adding, “I always tell my daughter to be herself. I always tell my daughter to be proud of who she is. 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.”

Starting an important dialogue around identity and family dynamics within queer identity, it was certainly a decision that paid off.

They’re Expecting a Second Child

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Motherhood seems to be a major focus in the next chapter of Parker’s life. Parker and ex-husband Williams share a daughter together, Lailaa Nicole, born May 13th, 2009. Additionally, Parker and Petrakova welcomed their first child together on February 11th, 2022, as Petrakova gave birth to son Airr Larry Petrakov Parker. They excitedly shared the announcement via Instagram, writing “We are in absolute love and utter appreciation that Goose chose us. Welcome to the fam SON.”

Present day, the two are expecting yet another addition to the family. Bringing the announcement to Instagram on their four-year anniversary, the excited parents wrote, “After four years in the game we are focused on building our roster. We know this rookie will add to our depth chart and contribute versatility to our team,” they joked. “The rookie will join our current roster consisting of a shooter, point forward, rebounder, and little Tikes rim attacker! The team as a whole struggles with clock management and a little bit on the defensive end. We are hoping the young buck will play their role, bring IQ, hustle, length, athleticism and passion to this team.”