Earlier today, Sky News broke the story that Sir Lewis Hamilton and Serena Williams had each pledged £10m as part of a bid to potentially buy Chelsea FC.
This Thursday, the tennis star and the Formula One champion have pledged an estimated £10 million ($13.06 million) each to join a bid for the Chelsea Football Club, a source told Reuters.
Williams and Hamilton joined former Liverpool chairman Martin Broughton’s bid for the team. Alongside the two athletes, Broughton is also joined by World Athletics president Sebastian Coe and wealthy investors from around the world, according to ESPN.
Via reports from the outlet, private equity veterans Josh Harris and David Blitzer, who own sport teams including the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, are also backing Broughton’s bid.
“We can confirm Lewis has joined Sir Martin Broughton’s bid,” a spokesperson for Hamilton told The Guardian. According to the outlet, the 37-year-old Mercedes driver aims to “have a positive effect on diversity and inclusion at Chelsea and in the club’s local community.”
This will not be the first stake Williams, 40, has held in a sports team — she is already an investor in Los Angeles’ Angel City FC, which will make its debut in the National Women’s Soccer League later this month.
Others on the shortlist to buy the Premier League club are L.A. Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and Boston Celtics co-owner Steve Pagliuca, ESPN reports.
A consortium led by Chicago Cubs owners the Ricketts family recently pulled out of the running.
Bids to buy the premier league team began after the club’s owner, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, announced putting the team up for sale in a statement on March 2.
Abramovich’s decision was made after British government sanctions imposed on him following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“In the current situation, I have therefore taken the decision to sell the club, as I believe this is in the best interest of the club, the fans, the employees, as well as the club’s sponsors and partners,” the statement said.
“The sale of the club will not be fast-tracked but will follow due process,” Abramovich continued. “I will not be asking for any loans to be repaid. This has never been about business nor money for me, but about pure passion for the game and club.”
“Moreover, I have instructed my team to set up a charitable foundation where all net proceeds from the sale will be donated. The foundation will be for the benefit of all victims of the war in Ukraine. This includes providing critical funds towards the urgent and immediate needs of victims, as well as supporting the long-term work of recovery.”
“It has been a privilege of a lifetime to be part of Chelsea FC and I am proud of all our joint achievements. Chelsea Football Club and its supporters will always be in my heart,” the Russian investor concluded.
In a March 10 statement from the club, the team also shared that “the UK Government has issued a general license that permits Chelsea FC to continue certain activities” in light of the owner’s recent sanctions.
The sanctions on Abramovich is one of the many directed at Russians since President Vladimir Putin first began his invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues after their forces launched a large-scale invasion on Feb. 24 — the first major land conflict in Europe in decades.
Details of the fighting change by the day, but hundreds of civilians have already been reported dead or wounded, including children. Millions of Ukrainians have also fled, the United Nations says.
“You don’t know where to go, where to run, who you have to call. This is just panic,” Liliya Marynchak, a 45-year-old teacher in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, told PEOPLE of the moment her city was bombed — one of numerous accounts of bombardment by the Russians.
The invasion, ordered by Putin, 69, has drawn condemnation around the world and increasingly severe economic sanctions against Russia.
With NATO forces massing in the region around Ukraine, various countries have also pledged aid or military support to the resistance. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for peace talks — so far unsuccessful — while urging his country to fight back.
Putin insists Ukraine has historic ties to Russia and he is acting in the best security interests of his country. Zelenskyy, 44, vowed not to bend.
“Nobody is going to break us, we’re strong, we’re Ukrainians,” he told the European Union in a speech in the early days of the fighting, adding, “Life will win over death. And light will win over darkness.”