Actress Natalie Portman and tennis icon Serena Williams have joined with a star-studded ownership group that also includes Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach to bring an NWSL team to Los Angeles.
The NWSL announced on Tuesday that the new LA-based club will begin play in 2022 with a team name and stadium selection to be confirmed by the end of 2020.
Temporarily known as "Angel City", the club features a massive women-led ownership group featuring a number of famous actresses, national team stars and business leaders.
“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group," Portman said in a statement. "I am thrilled by the opportunity to partner with this incredible group of people to bring a professional women’s soccer team to Los Angeles. Together, we aim to build not only a winning team on the field, but also to develop a passionately loyal fan base.
"We also hope to make a substantive impact on our community, committing to extending access to sports for young people in Los Angeles through our relationship with the LA84 Foundation. Sports are such a joyful way to bring people together, and this has the power to make tangible change for female athletes both in our community and in the professional sphere.”
Headlining the group is Academy Award winner Portman, alongside fellow actors Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, and Eva Longoria.
Hamm and Wambach are joined by a series of former USWNT stars in the ownership group as well, with Julie Foudy,, Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini Hoch, Saskia Webber and Lauren Cheney Holiday also included.
Williams, the most decorated tennis player of the modern era, is also among the owners, as is her two-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr.
Technology venture capitalist Kara Nortman, media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, Williams' husband, who led the investment through his firm Initialized Capital.
"I am proud to be a part of this wonderful group working to bring a women’s professional football club to Los Angeles," Ohanian said. "Chiefly, because I’m a fan of the game, but also because I believe there is massive potential for the sport and it's been undervalued by too many people for far too long.
"As someone who spends hours kicking around a football with my two-year-old daughter, I want her to have a front-row seat to this revolution. I’m personally investing on behalf of my family because creating more opportunities in women’s sports is important to my wife and me, and we want to be a part of making a better future for our daughter.”
With the introduction of this new LA-based team, the NWSL will now feature 11 teams, with nine clubs currently in the league and Racing Louisville FC set to begin play in 2021.
The league is currently holding the NWSL Challenge Cup in Sandy, Utah, with the Portland Thorns set to face the Houston Dash in one semifinal while Sky Blue FC face the Chicago Red Stars in the other.
“The growth trajectory of the NWSL is incredibly exciting, but we also need to be strategic and thoughtful about how fast we expand and the communities we partner with," said league commissioner Lisa Baird. "We’ve long sought the right partner in LA considering the NWSL fanbase that already exists in the region and the massive interest in women’s soccer in general.
"Those factors, along with an incredible ownership group make this an ideal situation and we couldn’t be more thrilled to move forward.”