DEERFIELD, IL - MAY 7: Sonja Petrovic #5 of the Chicago Sky poses for a photo during the 2012 WNBA Media Day on May 7, 2012 at the Sachs Recreation Center in Deerfield, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Updated: July 3, 2012 9:52AM
It took a little more prodding than Sky coach/general manager Pokey Chatman thought, but she eventually convinced forward Sonja Petrovic to make the biggest move of her life.
Petrovic, 23, is part of a new group of players that Chatman brought in for this season. And Petrovic could play her first game at Allstate Arena on Friday, when the Sky (1-0) hosts the Indiana Fever (1-0) in its home opener (7:30, CN100).
But Petrovic’s move to Chicago was a little more complicated than just deciding to leave her Russian team, Spartak. Petrovic was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia, and spent her entire career in Europe. She had never been to the United States.
Petrovic was drafted by the San Antonio Silver Stars in 2009 but opted to stay in Europe. She played for Spartak for four years under Chatman, who acquired Petrovic in a trade with the Silver Stars on March 14. The Sky gave up a second-round draft pick in 2013.
“She’s 23 going on 33,” Chatman said. “She understands being away from Serbia, and she’s played in Spain, France and Russia. But this is her first trip to the United States.”
So Petrovic, who also played alongside Sky center Sylvia Fowles, was apprehensive of what she’d encounter in Chicago.
“It was weird, and I was a little scared,” Petrovic said. “It was different from what I expected because my feelings for the country came from TV and newspapers. I found the people here very friendly and [willing] to help.”
Besides trying to help the Sky reach the playoffs for the first time, Petrovic also wants to embrace Chicago’s large Serb population — the second-most of any city in the world at 300,000. Although she only has been in Chicago for a month, Petrovic wants to learn more about the Serbian neighborhoods in the city.
With the Bosnian War going on from 1992 to 1995, you’d assume Petrovic had a turbulent childhood. Through the horror of that conflict, Petrovic saw herself — and her family — as one of the lucky ones.
“We lived in Belgrade and had the opportunity to do everything,” Petrovic said. “I’m not the type of person who had tough times.”
Petrovic has been nursing a broken finger on her left (non-shooting) hand for several weeks. She suffered the injury while playing for Spartak.
She missed the Sky’s first game but participated in full-contact practice this week and is going to be a game-day decision.
But guard Ticha Penicheiro will not suit up. She has a left calf injury and only played 3:24 in the Sky’s 69-57 victory Saturday against the Washington Mystics.