Words by: Michelle Dartez
Other than Naomi Osaka’s recent win against her idol Serena Williams at the Australian Open, some of you may remember hearing about Naomi Osaka’s activism during her run in the U.S. Open last year. She went to New York with 7 face-masks, each mask with the name of a Black victim of violence. Naomi would wear a different one for each of her matches. Some of the victims that she honored are Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Trayvon Martin, Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Philando Castile.
Osaka became one of the prominent figures in the effort to bring awareness of racial injustice to tennis. The 23-year-old is the reigning U.S. Open champion and the number three ranked woman tennis player in the world. Back in December, she joined Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart and Kansas City Chiefs teammates Patrick Mahomes and Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff for Sports Illustrated’s “Sportsperson of the Year” honor. These athletes were specifically chosen due to their activism on and off the court and field.
As of last year, on top of her activism, Naomi has overtaken Serena Williams as the world’s highest-paid female athlete. According to Forbes, she is estimated to have earned around $34 million in 2020 from her endorsement deals with the likes of Nike, Beats by Dre, Mastercard, and Nissin, among others. She has made new agreements with French fashion house Louis Vuitton and Swiss watch brand Tag Heuer. Also, adding another sponsor to her growing commercial portfolio, by agreeing to a new endorsement deal with Workday, the human resources company.
Osaka owns equity stakes in BodyArmor and Hyperice, as well. Not only that, but the young tennis star has been announced as the co-owner of the National Women’s Soccer League team the North Carolina Courage. She is also the first investor since the team moved to North Carolina.
“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,” Via Naomi’s Instagram
This relationship makes sense for both parties as they are all 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. They have a lot of respect for each other and are excited to start this venture together.