Tennis star Naomi Osaka, of Japanese and Haitian descent, has been a busy woman the past couple of years, positioning herself as one of the most influential Gen Zers on the globe.
Social Justice Warrior
In addition to her tennis excellence and social justice endeavors, she has become a branding machine, with every elite brand name wanting to associate its products with this rising star, who at every round of the US Open tournament in New York, she wore masks bearing the names of Black Americans who died as a result of racial injustice and police brutality.
Her community outreach has been exemplary as well.
Queen Brand Ambassador
It was recently announced that the brand ambassador supreme would wear a Workday logo patch on her match dress, beginning with an exhibition in Adelaide, Australia, on Jan. 29, and then during the Australian Open.
In the last five months, Osaka, the girlfriend of rapper Cordae (formally of YBN), has joined forces with Louis Vuitton and Beats as a global ambassador, inked a deal with TAG Heuer, and helped PlayStation launch the PS5. Those endorsements were added to Osaka’s extensive roster of partners, including Nike, MasterCard, and Nissan, and equity stakes in BodyArmor and Hyperice.
Now the three-time Grand Slam tennis champion has ventured into the elite space of team ownership, reportedly investing an undisclosed amount of capital in the North Carolina Courage of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the U.S. top-flight club said Thursday.
Osaka, 23, was named Forbes’ highest-paid female athlete in May last year when she surpassed her idol, Serena Williams, taking in $37.4 million in prize money and endorsements over 12 months.
In 2018, she signed a mega-deal with Adidas and she was on her way.
NWSL Team Ownership
The National Women’s Soccer League made headlines when Trinity Rodman, an 18-year old freshman from Washington State and the daughter of NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman became the youngest player ever selected in the women’s pro soccer draft. She was selected by the Washington Spirit with the second overall pick in the 2021 NWSL Draft.
With the WNBA-led women’s sports movement blasting full speed ahead, this is an opportune time for Osaka, who has already lent her celebrity to advancing racial and social justice, to have a direct influence in helping to grow women’s professional soccer in the United States.
Osaka is used to winning and The Courage won back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019 after moving to North Carolina, so it’s a perfect fit.
Stephen Malik, chairman and founder of the club in 2017, said: “I am thrilled to welcome Naomi as an owner of the North Carolina Courage.
“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.”