When most of North America was just getting up and getting ready on Thursday morning, the North Carolina Courage announced that tennis superstar Naomi Osaka had become the first investor in the team since it was relocated to North Carolina in 2017.
Like most people who saw the news this morning, I thought I was dreaming but after double-checking Osaka’s social media and the Courage website, I saw that the dream was actually a reality.
On her social media post about the announcement, Osaka noted that this investment in the Courage came from women in the past who had invested in her and how they helped her reach the level that she is in today. Now she wanted to return the favor and invest on young females who are looking to reach the highest level in professional women’s soccer.
Steve Malik, owner of the NC Courage, stated that he felt that “Naomi embodies the values” the Courage want to cultivate at the club and in light of her rising profile, also brings an “invaluable viewpoint on topics beyond sports.”
Malik isn’t wrong in that regard. Apart from being a three time Grand Slam winner, most recently in 2020 at the US Open, Naomi Osaka has become a trailblazer with her ability to combine her prowess in tennis with her social activism. She has used her platform on the WTA and global stage to bring light to social justice in a way that many other female athletes have been and are still striving to do. Having her on board with the Courage not only raised the profile of the team but also shows that they are willing to push the conversation forward with regards to their social activism.
According to Curt Johnson, the Courage’s President and General Manager, Naomi Osaka will also be involved with the team’s overall fashion design in 2021. This will come as no surprise for those who follow Osaka as she has become one of tennis’ premier fashion icons over the course of her relatively young career.
While no further information has been put forth by either parties, this is a huge sign that the Courage are looking to pursue their goal of being the team to beat in the National Women’s Soccer League, both on the field and off it. Having someone like Osaka now backing them will only increase the team’s profile in the national conscious and also, give them the financial backing that an investor like Osaka can bring to the table.