Three-times Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has become part owner of the North Carolina Courage, the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team said on Thursday.
The club said in a statement that the 23-year-old is the first investor in the Courage since chairman Steve Malik acquired and relocated them to from New York to North Carolina in 2017.
“Naomi embodies the values we have been striving to cultivate at our club, and she brings an invaluable viewpoint on topics beyond sports,” Malik said in the statement.
“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.”
The Japanese-Haitian star, who has lived in the US since she was three, in 2020 was named Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year for both her on-court performance and off-the-court activism.
In August she made headlines when she threatened to forfeit her Western & Southern Open tennis tournament semi-final.
This was in an act of protest after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, in the US state of Wisconsin.
The Courage praised the US Open reigning champion’s use of her platform “as a stage for social activism in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.”
Naomi was named Forbes’ Highest Paid Female Athlete in 2020.
She said by investing in Courage, she is showing her commitment to inspiring the next generation of female athletes.
“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,” said Naomi.
“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.”