Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka has reportedly left her previous agency, IMG, with the intention of starting her own agency, EVOLVE, according to Sportico.
She is the first female athlete to take full control of her business endeavors and attempt to build an agency, per Sportico.
“I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn’t what was expected or traditional,” Osaka said in an email to Sportico’s Kurt Badenhausen. “Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as both an athlete and businesswoman, as well as a way to continue being myself and doing things my way.”
Osaka’s contract with IMG expired at the end of 2021 and she opted not to renew her deal with the company. Instead, she struck out on her own, alongside former IMG agent Stuart Duguid, to found EVOLVE. Both have equity stakes in the new firm, and there are no outside investors at this point, according to Sportico.
“I’m excited to start this with my business partner Stuart and our plan is to use the same approach we took in building my businesses authentically and strategically as a vision for this company,” Osaka said. “I strongly believe in the power athletes have to use our platforms to drive meaningful business.”
She added that she wants the new agency to “be at the forefront of breaking down the barriers that still exist in sports and broader culture.”
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Osaka is no stranger to pushing past—and even shattering—barriers. Since bursting onto the scene with a victory over Serena Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open final, the 24-year-old has continuously carved out a place for herself on the court and in the business world.
According to Sportico’s 2022 list of the highest-paid athletes, Osaka ranks 20th and has made over $52 million in endorsements. She holds equity in a number of companies, including Sweetgreen and Modern Health.
Osaka has gone on to use her platform as a player and business mogul to speak out about issues that are important to her. In 2020, she was outspoken about police brutality and racial injustice, and wore masks at the 2020 U.S. Open featuring the names of Black individuals who were victims of racial violence.
In 2021, Osaka took a hiatus from competitive tennis in order to focus on her mental health. She raised awareness about the topic by sharing her experiences and revealing that she worked with a therapist on handling the pressure of the sport and her overall mental health.
Osaka returned to the finals of an event for the first time since the 2021 Australian Open in April at the Miami Open. She also played in the Madrid Open, losing in the second round to Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.
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