Nike signs tennis star Osaka
On the heels of Adidas’s new partnership with Beyoncé, Nike has its own new celebrity deal. The Beaverton, Oregon-based sportswear has signed tennis star Naomi Osaka to its athlete roster. Osaka, who won the US Open last year in a high-profile, dramatic defeat of Serena Williams, had been an endorser of Nike rival Adidas. She joins the well-known ranks of Nike brand ambassadors including Williams, LeBron James and Colin Kaepernick.
Osaka's first match wearing Nike will be on April 22 at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany.
"As we continue to inspire millions of athletes to chase their crazy dreams, Naomi is an incredible talent to add to our roster and help drive our commitment to inspiring a new generation of female athletes,” Amy Montagne, VP and general manager of global categories at Nike, said in a statement.
Montagne’s “crazy dreams” statement references Nike’s recent marketing campaign to celebrate the 30th anniversary of its “Just Do It” tagline—Kaepernick headlined the push with a spot that encouraged consumers to “Dream Crazy.”
Osaka, who was born in Japan but raised in the U.S., emerged as a highly sought endorser following her U.S. Open win last fall. She inked a deal with Nissan in the wake of the win.
Osaka’s alignment with Nike helps strengthen the brand’s reputation as a performance-based sportswear brand. The move is in contrast to Adidas’ Beyonce deal, which is expected to showcase fashion-driven products. “Nike plays well in both fields [performance and lifestyle],” Matt Powell, sports industry analyst at market research firm NPD Group Inc., says.