National Football League (NFL) icon Tom Brady and former women’s tennis world number one Kim Clijsters are the latest athletes to purchase a Major League Pickleball (MLP) expansion team.
The pair are part of a group led by Knighthead Capital Management, which also includes the firm’s co-founder Tom Wagner, as well as film producer Matt Alvarez and Wall Street bond saleswoman Callie Simpkins. Kaitlyn Kerr, a financial advisor, is also onboard and will serve as general manager of the MLP team ahead of its debut in 2023.
Brady and Clijsters join National Basketball Association (NBA) stars LeBron James, Draymond Green and Kevin Love in purchasing a team in the US-based MLP, after the trio announced their involvement in the league last month. Other owners include Super Bowl winner Drew Brees, Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry, as well as Miami Open tournament director and retired US tennis player James Blake.
MLP stated that the expansion team is a part of a ‘three-pronged growth plan’ for 2023, which will see 12 teams grow to 16, three events double to six, and player prize money and payouts surpass US$2 million.
“Tom Brady, Kim Clijsters, and Knighthead Capital Management are champions in their fields and will now be champions for Major League Pickleball,” said MLP founder Steve Kuhn.
“What really shines through in working with these amazing individuals is their passion for the sport. We are thrilled to welcome them to our unrivaled roster of strategic partners, who are individually and collectively instrumental in helping us elevate professional pickleball, showcase the joy it brings to millions of people around the globe, and further our ’40 by 30′ campaign – our mission to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.”