Tennis star Naomi Osaka has become a co-owner of the North Carolina Courage, the National Women's Soccer League club has announced.
Osaka, 23, is one of the most recognisable tennis players in the world, having won three Grand Slam titles already in her career: the 2018 US Open, 2019 Australian Open, and 2020 US Open.
She joins up with one of the most successful franchises in National Women's Soccer League history, with the Courage having two NWSL Championships and three NWSL Shields in the past four years.
“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,” Osaka said in a team release.
“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.”
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
Osaka has become the first investor in the Courage since Steve Malik acquired and relocated the team to North Carolina in 2017.
“I am thrilled to welcome Naomi as an owner of the North Carolina Courage,” said Malik.
“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.”
The Courage will enter the 2021 season looking to replace a number of U.S. women's national team stars who left during the off-season, including Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis and Abby Dahlkemper.