Three-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka has become the part-owner of National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) franchise North Carolina Courage. By acquiring an undisclosed ownership stake in the team, the tennis star became the first investor to join owner Steve Malik since he purchased the Courage and relocated them to North Carolina in 2017. While the new investor was introduced in a video showing highlights of her tennis career and the team’s history under the motto Courage Unites Us, Osaka also took to Twitter to announce the news.
The women who have invested in me growing up made me who I am today, I don’t know where I would be without them. Throughout my career I’ve always received so much love from my fellow female athletes so that’s why I am proud to share that I am now a owner of @TheNCCourage ⚽️❤️ pic.twitter.com/Iz0YcVvOqz
— NaomiOsaka大坂なおみ (@naomiosaka) January 28, 2021
In a statement to confirm her stake in the club, Osaka said, “The women who have invested in me growing up made me who I am today, and I cannot think of where my life would be without them. My investment in the North Carolina Courage is far beyond just being a team owner. It’s an investment in amazing women who are role models and leaders in their fields and inspirations to all young female athletes. I also admire everything the Courage does for diversity and equality in the community, which I greatly look forward to supporting and driving forward.”
Club’s owner and chairman Steve Malik welcomed Osaka to the franchise and said, “Naomi embodies the values we have been striving to cultivate at our club, and she brings an invaluable viewpoint on topics beyond sports. I cannot think of anyone better to help us as we continue to make a difference in our community and inspire the next generation of women.”
A statement from the club also mentioned that they are exploring ways of harnessing Naomi’s passion and talent for fashion, with plans to incorporate the tennis star into its design decisions in 2021. Osaka is also going to be a strategic advisor for NC Courage and would focus on areas like growing the brand, promoting women’s sport, and tackling social issues.
Osaka is not the first celebrity owner in the NWSL. Angel City FC in Los Angeles, a 2022 NWSL expansion club, is owned by tennis star Serena Williams, actresses Eva Longoria, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Garner and Jessica Chastain and retired football star Mia Hamm. This new investment in the Courage, however, adds to Osaka’s equity stakes in BodyArmor and Hyperice. It also follows recent sponsorship deals with Louis Vuitton, Tag Heuer and Workday. Recently, she also appeared in Levi’s new ‘Beauty of Becoming’ series.
Osaka, the reigning US Open champ, was named as the world’s highest-paid female athlete last year when she earned around US$34 million from endorsements. With multiple endorsements and investments in the first month of 2021, it won’t be surprising to see her retain the title this year as well.