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Tennis star Naomi Osaka invests in NC women’s soccer club

By Anne M. Peterson

AP Sports Writer

Three-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka has invested in the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League, citing a desire to support women as role models and leaders.

Osaka is the first investor in the Courage since Steve Malik acquired the Western New York Flash and moved the team to North Carolina in 2017. The Courage have won two NWSL titles since the move.

“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 statement. “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.”

Osaka is not the only prominent tennis player to own a stake in an NWSL team. Serena Williams is among a group of prominent investors in Angel City FC, a Los Angeles expansion club set to start play in 2022. Other athletes have also invested in soccer teams, including
LeBron James (Liverpool) and Kevin Durant (Philadelphia Union).

Osaka, who was named the AP Female Athlete of the Year in 2020, is preparing for the Australian Open, set to start Feb. 8. The 23-year-old won the event in 2019, and has also won two U.S. Open titles.

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