soccer

Natalie Portman Teams Up With Serena Williams and U.S. Soccer Legends to Bring Women's Pro Team to LA

The yet-to-be-named team will start play in the National Women's Soccer League in spring 2022.

Natalie Portman arrives for the 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre.
Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

 The National Women's Soccer League announced Tuesday that a majority woman-founded group led by Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman and including Serena Williams has secured the exclusive right to bring a professional women's soccer team to Los Angeles to kick off in spring 2022.

While the team's official name and venue partner will be announced before the end of the year, the group has formally coined itself “Angel City'' in honor of its planned home in Los Angeles, the league said in a statement.

“Today we take an exciting step by announcing the first women majority-owned and led ownership group,'' said Portman, who praised her investment partners. ``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.''

Led by media and gaming entrepreneur Julie Uhrman, the consortium president, the founding investor group includes Serena Williams and her toddler daughter, Alexis; actors Uzo Aduba, Jessica Chastain, America Ferrera, Jennifer Garner, and Eva Longoria; late night talk show host Lilly Singh; former U.S. Women's National Team players Julie Foudy, Mia Hamm, Rachel Buehler, Shannon Boxx, Amanda Cromwell, Lorrie Fair Allen, Ronnie Fair Sullins, Joy Fawcett, Angela Hucles, Shannon MacMillan, Tisha Venturini Hoch, and Saskia Webber.

Also among the founders are two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and FIFA World Cup Champions Lauren Cheney Holiday and Abby Wambach; author and activist Glennon Doyle; Netflix VP, Original Content, Cindy Holland; tech entrepreneur and filmmaker Casey Neistat; Founding Board Member of Baby2Baby Sabina Nathanson; Media Executive David Nathanson; Baby2Baby Co-President Norah Weinstein; and Bad Robot President and COO Brian Weinstein.

"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,'' NWSL Commissioner Lisa Baird said. "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.''

Uhrman announced that the founding group had formed a partnership with the LA84 Foundation ``to help us build out our community relations foundation from the very start.'' The foundation is a nonprofit institution created by the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee to manage Southern California's endowment from the 1984 Olympic Games.

Portman added: ``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.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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