Simone Biles has entered into an apparel partnership with women's sportswear company Athleta, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday on a move expected to be announced later in the day.
Biles had been a Nike athlete since 2015.
"It wasn’t just about my achievements, it’s what I stood for and how they were going to help me use my voice and also be a voice for females and kids,” Biles told the WSJ of her relationship with Athleta. “I feel like they also support me, not just as an athlete, but just as an individual outside of the gym and the change that I want to create, which is so refreshing."
Athleta, founded in 1998 and owned by Gap, also signed women's track and field star Allyson Felix to a partnership in 2019. Felix joined after expressing criticism toward Nike for coming up short in supporting pregnant athletes (Felix gave birth to her daughter in 2018).
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Simone Biles visits the Lower Eastside Girls Club with SK-II at Lower East Side Girls Club on March 3, 2020 in New York City. (Photo: Craig Barritt, Getty Images for SK-II)
Biles wasn't directly critical of Nike in her comments to the WSJ, but said she "just thought it was time for a change" and that Athleta, which says its workforce is 97 percent female, is "truly for women by women."
"Now that I’m older and kind of in the world a little bit more, I see and I know and I learn and I grow from things, so to partner with Athleta, I think they stand for everything that I stand for," she told the WSJ.
During an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon on Thursday, Biles wore a white Athleta tank top with the "ATH" logo visible.
Athleta and Biles told the WSJ that Biles would have a platform to be an activist for women and girls.
A Nike spokeswoman told the WSJ that Biles "is an incredible athlete and we wish her the very best," while the company "will continue to champion, celebrate and evolve to support our female athletes."
Biles will have her own performance wear line with Athleta. When asked by the WSJ if she felt Nike wouldn't produce her own line, Biles responded: “Not necessarily, but I also feel like Athleta is committed to diversity and inclusion, of all women, backgrounds, ages, sizes, abilities and races.”
Athleta has also pledged support of Biles' planned post-Olympics tour, which will not be through USA Gymnastics.
The terms of the agreement between Biles and Athleta were not disclosed.
Earlier this week, Gap announced it will sell its products in Canada starting this year, expanding outside of the U.S. for the first time.
Biles won four gold medals and one bronze at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and has 19 world championship gold medals.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
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