Serena Williams at the Australian Open in 2020. Credit: Rob Keating

French startup Sorare has welcomed tennis star Serena Williams as an advisor to its board of directors.

The news follows Sorare’s $680m fundraise last year, which saw investors like SoftBank take the startup’s valuation to $4.3bn.

Sorare’s platform is based on the booming world of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which allows people to buy — and own — digital assets like art or football memorabilia using blockchain technology. Founded in 2018, Sorare currently focuses on the beautiful game, allowing fans to buy and sell “player tokens”, and then get rewarded in crypto for their players’ performance in “fantasy” football games.

The Williams partnership is part of Sorare’s plan to expand its NFT trading site further into the sports arena, the company said. Williams will also advise on its diversity and inclusion strategy, and help the company develop relationships with athletes — including female stars — worldwide.

In December, Paris-based Sorare had 260k monthly active users across 180 countries, according to the company.

Celebrity stardust

Celebrities can offer enormous validation for growing brands, and Sorare is not the first startup to partner with a high-profile star.

A flurry of footballers — including David Beckham — have invested in, promoted or partnered with European startups like Grabyo and Moovenda. Meanwhile, Prince Harry recently joined mental health startup Better as chief impact officer.

Equally, Williams seems bought into NFTs.

“NFTs have the potential to be a powerful tool for bringing equity and investment to women’s sports,” Williams wrote in a statement.

“I’m excited to start working alongside Nicolas [Julia, Sorare’s CEO] and the team because they understand the relationship between athletes and fans unlike anyone else in the category, and I believe Sorare will be setting the culture and tone of the future of sports entertainment.”

That’s surely worth the price of an NFT or two.

The Sorare platform

Isabel Woodford is Sifted’s fintech correspondent. She tweets from @i_woodford and coauthors our fintech newsletter. Sign up here 

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