Serena Williams and Lewis Hamilton have joined a bid to buy leading British soccer club Chelsea after it was put up for sale by sanctioned Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.
The tennis and Formula One world champs each reportedly pledged $13.06 million to back a consortium aiming to buy the current Club World Cup champions, Sky Sports said.
Hamilton’s rep later confirmed that the 37-year-old racing legend was involved, but denied the figure being reported, without disclosing the actual amount.
Hamilton’s involvement was especially unexpected, given that he is a lifelong supporter of one of Chelsea’s main London rivals, Arsenal.
Williams is already an investor in Los Angeles’ Angel City FC, which plays in the National Women’s Soccer League.
The consortium is being led by former Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton and includes World Athletics President Sebastian Coe and wealthy investors from around the world, who the group says all want to maintain Chelsea’s top status.
Private equity veterans Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own sport teams including the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers, are also backing Broughton’s bid.
Abramovich, who has been sanctioned by the UK government, put the London club up for sale following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Because his assets have been frozen in the UK, the billionaire cannot benefit financially from the club’s sale.
Others on the shortlist to buy the English premiership club are LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca.
A consortium led by Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family pulled out of the running.