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Tennis star Ons Jabeur joins NWSL’s long list of athlete investors

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Ons Jabeur is the latest investor in the North Carolina Courage. (Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Tennis star Ons Jabeur is joining the North Carolina Courage as a minority owner, the club announced Friday.

In doing so, Jabeur joins a long list of athletes who have invested in NWSL clubs, including Naomi Osaka, Patrick Mahomes, Serena Williams and Sue Bird.

These stars are putting their money into a booming league. The 2022 NWSL final drew 915,000 viewers, a 71% increase from the 2021 final. And franchise valuations have skyrocketed: The Washington Spirit sold for $35 million in February; Gotham FC were valued at $40 million in August; and the Portland Thorns were valued at $60 million ahead of their upcoming sale.

Just Women’s Sports highlights some of the NWSL’s top athlete investors during the 2023 season.

Angel City FC

The Los Angeles-based club features a long roster of investors, including NFL quarterback Matthew Stafford, his wife Kelly and their daughters.

“We fell in love with attending an Angel City game last season and wanted our daughters to experience something so important and powerful first-hand,” Matthew and Kelly Stafford said in a news release.

The list of investors includes many former U.S. women’s national team players, including Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Rachel Buehler, Lauren Cheney Holiday, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Shannon MacMillan, Angela Hucles Mangano and Saskia Webber.

Retired tennis players Serena Williams, Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss, two-time WNBA champion Candace Parker, former USMNT player Cobi Jones, former NHL defender P.K. Subban, U.S. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn, U.S. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson East and former NFL long snapper Andrew East also are investors.

Chicago Red Stars

Chicago Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts and her investor group have reached an agreement to buy the Red Stars.

The group includes Angela Barnes, chief legal officer of IDEO; Debra Cafaro, chairman and CEO of Ventas and a partner in the Pittsburgh Penguins ownership group; Jessica Droste Yagan, CEO of Impact Engine; Jennifer Pritzker, president and CEO of TAWANI Enterprises; and Sidney Dillard, a partner at Chicago’s Loop Capital.

Houston Dash

NBA star James Harden joined the ownership group for the Dash and their MLS counterpart, the Houston Dynamo, in July 2019. While the 2018 NBA MVP and 10-time All-Star plays for the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2022-23 season, he played for the Houston Rockets from 2012-21.

Gotham FC

The New York City-area team pulled in several big-name investors in 2022, among them former USWNT and Gotham forward Carli Lloyd, four-time WNBA champion Sue Bird, two-time NBA champion Kevin Durant and two-time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning.

Kansas City Current

Patrick Mahomes will join his wife Brittany and Current co-owners Angie and Chris Long as an investor in the club, which enters 2023 looking to build on its 2022 NWSL championship appearance.

“I am excited to join another championship-caliber club as it continues to make history,” the 2018 NFL MVP and 2020 Super Bowl MVP said in a statement.

North Carolina Courage

Naomi Osaka invested in the Courage in 2021. The 25-year-old tennis star is a four-time major singles champion and topped Forbes’ list of the highest-paid female athletes in the world with $51.1 million in earnings in 2022. Fellow tennis star Ons Jabeur joined Osaka as an investor in the Courage in August 2023.

“Soccer and female empowerment are my main passions outside of tennis,” Jabeur said. “When Naomi took an equity stake in the Courage, I asked her if she would give me a starting position as a striker, but she said no… so I did the next best thing and become an owner. The Courage are the perfect club for me in terms of shared values and ambitions, both on and off the field.”

OL Reign

Former NBA point guard Tony Parker, who played for the San Antonio Spurs from 2001-18 and for the Charlotte Hornets from 2018-19, holds a minority stake in the Seattle-based club.

Washington Spirit

Former USWNT goalkeeper Briana Scurry and U.S. Olympic gymnast Dominique Dawes joined the Spirit as minority investors in 2021.