Tennis star Naomi Osaka is broadening her commitment to women’s sports.
The three-time Grand Slam champion announced in a tweet on Thursday that she’s purchased a stake in the North Carolina Courage, a team in the National Women’s Soccer League, and is now a part-owner.
In a statement, Osaka said that her desire to invest in women’s sports comes from the women who supported her in her career when she was younger.
“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.”
Team owner Steve Malik said that he’s excited to welcome Osaka and her unique perspective to the Courage family.
“I am thrilled to welcome Naomi as an owner of the North Carolina Courage,” Malik said in a statement. “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.”
Osaka says Courage aligns with her values
Osaka, who is currently overseas prepping for the upcoming Australian Open, told People that she’s been talking to NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird about investing in a team for awhile.
"I've been wanting to get involved with the NWSL for a while, to promote women's sports and also as a business investment because I can see it growing rapidly," Osaka said to People. "The commissioner of the league introduced me to a few teams and after lengthy conversations, I decided the Courage was the best fit for me."
Osaka is the first investor in the Courage since Malik, a local entrepreneur, established the team in 2017. He purchased the Western New York Flash after it won the NWSL Championship in 2016 and moved the team to North Carolina. Since then, the Courage has won two NWSL Championships.
In her interview with People, Osaka said that she chose the Courage because of the work it does to support women’s sports.
"First and foremost, I really like the people running the club from top to bottom. They align so closely with my values and interests — promoting women's sports through grassroots and using the team as a platform to do good in the community.
"I love that young girls can now look to professional soccer as a realistic sporting career. When I was young it felt like tennis — and maybe golf — was the only option."
Osaka doesn’t plan to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Courage, but already has ideas for how she can help the team.
"We have some plans to do some really unique and cool stuff together — I plan to be involved as more of a strategic advisor on things like growing the brand, promoting women's sports, encouraging the next generation and tackling social issues.”
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