Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, and four WTA legends, are among dozens of new investors in 12 new teams that will debut in Major League Pickleball in 2023.
Osaka is set to join ATP star Nick Kyrgios, the 2022 Wimbledon finalist, and former ATP Top 10 player Mardy Fish as investors in a Miami-based team. Meanwhile, Hall of Famers Tracy Austin, Chris Evert, Lindsay Davenport and Gigi Fernández have invested in a Chicago team, while ATP ace John Isner is on board as an investor for the Dallas team.
The 12 teams join the league as a result of last month's merger between MLP and the rival Professional Pickleball Association, which doubled the league's roster of teams from 12 to 24.
In October, five-time Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters joined Super Bowl champion Tom Brady in announcing they'll also be investing in a team in the league.
Invented in 1965, pickleball has boomed in recent years thanks in part to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Played with paddles, it counted more than 4.8 million players in the United States last year, according to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association Single Sport Report on Pickleball.