Serena Williams has revealed that husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia were among her primary influencers for investing in the future of women's professional soccer.
Earlier this week, news broke that Williams, her husband and daughter are among a star-studded group of investors who have committed to bring professional women's soccer to the city of Los Angeles through a new National Women's Soccer League franchise. Angel City FC is projected to begin play in the league in 2022.
On Saturday, Williams and Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman, also in the ownership group, linked up for a special Instagram live session to talk about their commitment to the team and what they hope to achieve on and off the field with their investment.
"We are so excited to be a part of this team together with you, Alexis, Olympia and all the ownership of women's soccer in LA," Portman said.
"I started getting into soccer and I was saying, 'This is the most popular sport in the world.' 'The U.S. [women] have the best players in the world.' 'How are we need celebrating these players every day at home, and not just every four years at the World Cup?'
"I started looking into it, and found like-minded people, and we're so, so excited to have this team in LA... and to have you spreading your energy across sports for women."
In addition to Portman, Williams, Ohanian and little Olympia, the team also has financial backing via former U.S women’s stars Mia Hamm, Abby Wambach, Julie Foudy and Lauren Holiday, and other celebrities including Eva Longoria, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Garner, America Ferrera and Uzo Aduba.
"Alexis has been a champion from the beginning, and we came at the idea from people we talked to. He's such a great advocate for women's sports, and new sports in general," Portman continued.
"LA is obviously such a big entertainment city, and it makes so much sense to have the entertainment community come and bring broader attention to these incredible players. Obviously, they have so much attention that they've brought to themselves, but... there are a lot of incredible women who are part of it from the entertainment community, and then, of course, we have 14 former U.S. national team players. That's incredible, too, to have athletes in the sport owning the team."
Williams added: "I think that's really cool for athletes to own something. It's interesting, because you have a different type of pride when you're there and you're playing for something that you own. It's not really done in tennis, so it's really interesting to have an opportunity to do that in a different sport. It would be a wonderful feeling to have that. You want to play better, to play harder - not only are you playing me, you're playing me in my stadium."
The former World No.1 revealed that the project was in the works for over a year and has largely been spearheaded by the passion of her husband, who broached the topic to her last summer.
"My husband told me first about it. At last year's Wimbledon, he said that he was thinking about this," Williams revealed. "We were watching the World Cup and the women's soccer team, they've been dominant... and I've been watching them for a really long time since Mia Hamm was playing. There have been so many generations.
"Alexis said he wanted to do something in LA, to create a team in LA - and I was like, 'Oh, that's insane.' So, really, it was, honestly, everyone is talking about this but it was mostly his idea, but it's fun for him and I to see it."
"There are so many women athletes right now, tennis players, soccer players, that are just super exciting. I have a daughter, and I'm not sure what I would've done if I had a son, but it's just nice for her to have a father that's supportive of her. It's been really cool for her and her future here."
With a hearty laugh, she added: "Our daughter loves soccer - I hate to say it! Every time she starts kicking a ball, I get this jealous look in my eyes and I give her a tennis racquet."
Portman, who is the mother of both a son and a daughter, also emphasized the importance of exposing young boys as an audience for women's sports.
"It's so great, obviously, for girls to see but it's also so great for boys to see," she said. "I have a nine-year-old and I want him to grow up with athletes of all genders as his heroes, and it's so great to see them getting to grow up to see both... I just want there to be every opportunity [for her daughter] to be her truest self."