Tennis star Naomi Osaka is launching her own sports agency called Evolve.
Osaka is teaming up with her agent, Stuard Duguid, on the new venture. She’s leaving IMG after six years.
“I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn’t what was expected or traditional. Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as both an athlete and businesswoman,” Osaka said.
Duguid told Reuters that he and Osaka hatched the idea at last summer’s Tokyo Olympics. The firm, he said, will have a “small boutique” aim.
“We were discussing the business models of some of her mentors like Kobe (Bryant) and LeBron (James),” Duguid told the wire service. “We thought — why has no transcendent female athlete done that yet.”
The expanded branding of Osaka ? a four-time singles champion in Grand Slam tournaments who represents Japan but learned the game mostly in Florida ? comes at a challenging juncture in her career.
The 24-year-old won her fourth Grand Slam singles title at the 2021 Australian Open. Later that year, she dropped out of the French Open due to mental health concerns. Osaka, who was reduced to tears by a heckler at Indian Wells in March, has continued to openly discuss her depression and anxiety.
The former No. 1?s ranking is now 38, and she has not won a tournament since her Australian victory.