US Open tennis champion Naomi Osaka has bought a stake in women’s football team, North Carolina Courage.
Osaka said that the US women’s national team’s fight for equal pay was one of the factors behind her decision to invest as co-owner of the NWSL team who were crowned champions in 2018 and 2019.
“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,” she said in a club statement.
Her investment in North Carolina Courage comes after several celebrities and sports stars, including tennis Serena Williams and Billie Jean King, invested in a new women’s team in Los Angeles, Angel City FC, who will join the NWSL in 2022.
“After I saw some high-profile females getting involved in the LA franchise, I started looking to see if there were any teams where I could add value and make a strategic investment,” Osaka told The Athletic, “I’m very entrepreneurial and ambitious in business.
I’m also passionate about growing awareness for women’s sport and inspiring the next generation of young girls. Being an owner in an NWSL team seemed like a great way to merge those two interests.”
Osaka added that the US women’s side’s battle for equal pay influenced her decision, continuing:
“Yes definitely. I think women’s soccer is where my voice can resonate the most and also, I see it as a quickly evolving and expanding league.
“Tennis has a rich history of parity when it comes to prize money, so of course I have been following the US women’s team battle with interest.”
For now, the size of Osaka’s stake in North Carolina Courage has not been disclosed, but she is the first person to invest in the club since Steve Malik purchased the team and relocated them to North Carolina in 2017.