An Abrupt End to Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson’s Marriage


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Brittney Griner, left, and Glory Johnson, right.

The brief and tumultuous high-profile union between the professional basketball stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson appears to be ending in much the same way it began — with drama.

In a petition for annulment filed June 5, Ms. Griner, a center for the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Phoenix Mercury, said their marriage of less than a month was “void based on fraud and duress.” Ms. Johnson, the court papers said, pressured Ms. Griner into marrying her with “threatening statements.” (The New York Times featured the wedding in a Vows article on May 17.)

Ms. Griner’s filing in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix came the day after Ms. Johnson announced on Instagram that she was pregnant (with a photo of a cake shaped like a bun going into an oven and the hashtags #SUCCESS #BLESSED #WelcomeToTheJohnsonGrinerFamily).

That day, the Tulsa Shock announced that Ms. Johnson, a forward, would sit out the 2015 season because of her pregnancy. Both women have been suspended for the first seven games of the season by the W.N.B.A. after a domestic violence incident, which came 17 days before their wedding, at their recently purchased suburban Phoenix home.

“It has always been a dream of mine to start a family with someone I love,” Ms. Johnson said in the league’s June 4 news release. “The entire process, from learning our fertility options, to making the sacrifices necessary nine months before this child is born, is merely preparing me to become a great wife and an even better mother.”

While the marriage of Ms. Griner and Ms. Johnson, who said she is not a lesbian, was greeted with skepticism by some, it was largely celebrated by fans, who welcomed the early baby news.

But the excitement was short-lived, as news broke of Ms. Griner’s move to end the marriage in a way that a longtime family-law lawyer, Greg Davis, says was “unnecessarily dramatic.” The legal language is “boilerplate” for an annulment, but the same ends could have been accomplished with a typical divorce, said Mr. Davis, a lawyer in Scottsdale, Ariz.

“This is one of those rare instances where a boilerplate can be inflammatory,” Mr. Davis said. “It makes for some interesting speculation, but in all probability it’s a tempest in a teapot.”

In an interview with ESPN on June 8, Ms. Griner said she was surprised by Ms. Johnson’s pregnancy. She said that the marriage was a “huge mistake” and that she had tried “several times” to postpone their May 8 wedding. “Sometimes you feel pressured into things,” Ms. Griner said. “I went along with it.” (Calls to the couple and their representatives were unreturned.)

In a statement and in the ESPN interview, Ms. Griner said she and Ms. Johnson, who are both 24, had agreed to end their marriage. But Ms. Johnson’s sports marketing agent, D. J. Fisher, said in a statement that his client was blindsided by the court filing, had “put her career on hold” to carry their child and remained committed to the marriage.

The annulment, which Ms. Griner filed, seeks to absolve any responsibility for alimony and to lay to rest any speculation about who is responsible once the baby is born, saying that the pregnancy is “the result of in vitro fertilization using respondent’s eggs and a donor’s sperm. There is no biological connection to petitioner and the unborn child.”

That may not matter, however. Under Arizona law, Mr. Davis said, there is a presumption that a child conceived during a marriage is a child of both spouses. It would be up to Ms. Griner to prove that she has no legal responsibility for the child. “So what is enough to rebut the presumption?” Mr. Davis said. “The fact that she has no sperm? Maybe. This may end up at the Supreme Court if the lawyers want it to.”

But by Thursday evening, Ms. Johnson seemed to be coming to terms with the whole thing, at least based on her Instagram post: “Time To Move On and Focus On Myself and My Little One#GreaterJourneyAhead #LoveLife#StayBlessed #LetGoAndLetGod.”

Just as the couple’s relationship developed in the public eye, through their prolific social media accounts, so it is that its apparent demise is playing out publicly, too.

By Friday, the women had scrubbed each other from their Twitter and Instagram accounts, as if the relationship had never existed, save for one item posted on Ms. Johnson’s Instagram on June 5.

The photo shows a close-up of Ms. Griner lying on Ms. Johnson’s bare belly: “One day until I’m reunited with my Wife @brittneygriner … This is about to be one CRAZY SUMMER!!!#TooExcited #NewLife #NewAdditionToTheFamily.”



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