Naomi Osaka is adding women’s soccer to her investment portfolio.
The three-time Grand Slam champion is the first to invest in the North Carolina Courage — the 2018 and 2019 NWSL champions — since Steve Malik became the owner and relocated the team from New York in 2017.
“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 told People.
Osaka had conversations with multiple NWSL teams about investing. There are currently 10 teams in the league with two more slated to join.
The NWSL, which saw a nearly 500% jump in 2020 television ratings, continues to build interest from both viewers and investors.
The league has experienced a recent influx of celebrity backers:
- A group of investors led by Natalie Portman and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian was granted rights to bring a new team to Los Angeles. The team, Angel City FC, expects to begin play in 2022.
- Athletes Serena Williams, Mia Hamm and Billie Jean King are also listed as founding investors of the LA ownership group.
- Brittany Matthews, fitness entrepreneur and Patrick Mahomes’ fiancee, is part of the ownership group for the NWSL expansion team heading to Kansas City this year.
The investment is the latest partnership for Osaka, who has teamed up with brands like Hyperice, Louis Vuitton, BodyArmor, Bare Minerals and Nike.
Last year, the tennis star had the highest-earning year ever for a female athlete, according to Forbes — earning $37.4 million from June 2019 through May 2020.
The Courage said they plan to incorporate Osaka into their design decisions in 2021, harnessing her affinity for fashion.