Naomi Osaka becomes co-owner of women’s soccer team North Carolina Courage

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka just became a part owner of National Women’s Soccer League team the North Carolina Courage, the team announced Thursday. 

The reigning U.S. Open champion, who is the No. 3-ranked women’s player in the world, shared a photo with the team’s jersey on her Instagram account. The 23-year-old said the support she’s had in her career from women inspired her decision to invest in the Courage. 

“Currently reflecting on how the women who have invested in me growing up made me who I am today, I actually don’t know where I would be without them,” she wrote. “I feel that 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 I will keep continuing to pay the love I have received forward and I’m excited to continue the legacy of women empowerment.”

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Osaka is the first investor in the Courage since team chairman Steve Malik acquired and relocated them to North Carolina in 2017, according to a news release. Malik said in a statement that he was “thrilled” to welcome her as an owner. 

“Naomi embodies the values we have been striving to cultivate at our club, and she brings an invaluable viewpoint on topics beyond sports,” he said. “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.”

Both the Courage and Osaka have been recently successful in their respective sports. The Courage have won six trophies in four years. Osaka won the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2020 and the Australian Open in 2019. 

Osaka, who’s currently preparing for the Australian Open, made headlines during her last run in the U.S. Open. She arrived in New York with seven masks bearing the names of Black victims of violence and wore a different one for each match, honoring Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Philando Castile. Osaka, who has a Japanese mother and Haitian father, was at the forefront of efforts in tennis to bring awareness to racial injustice in the United States. 

Last month, Sports Illustrated honored her as one of five “activist” athletes for Sportsperson of the Year because of her activism. 

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