Yelena Baranova

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Elena Viktorovna Baranova (; born January 28, 1972) is a Russian professional basketball player. She is a former Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) player, where she became the first player from Europe in 1997 WNBA inaugural season, the first All-Star from Russia in 2001 and played for the New York Liberty until the 2005 season.


Baranova was born in Frunze, in the Kyrgyz Soviet Socialist Republic, in the USSR (present-day Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan). She started playing professional basketball at age 16, made USSR national team at the age of 17, won European Championship at the age of 19 in 1991 and became the Olympic champion at the age of 20 in 1992, quickly proved herself as one of the best basketball players in the World.

WNBA career

Baranova was assigned to the Utah Starzz on January 22, 1997. And was later traded with Utah's second-round pick in the 2000 WNBA Draft to the Miami Sol in exchange for Kate Starbird and the 8th pick in the 2000 WNBA Draft (December 15, 1999). She was taken in the 2003 WNBA Dispersal draft by the New York Liberty.

In January 1997, Baranova was selected among world's 16 top players to play in the inaugural WNBA season and in the first and inaugural WNBA championship. So the league was created and she became the first player from Russia and even from Europe to play in the World's Top Women's Basketball League.

Also known as 'Russian Queen' and 'SuperNova', Elena shined in 7 WNBA seasons during 1997-2005: 3 for Utah Starzz, 1...
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