Tennis star Naomi Osaka launching her own sports agency
Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka is launching her own sports agency and leaving IMG, she told the sports business publication Sportico.
In an interview with Sportico published Wednesday, Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, said her new sports agency, called Evolve, is a “natural next step” for her journey as an athlete and a business entrepreneur.
Osaka created the new agency along with her agent Stuart Duguid, who also departed from IMG, according to Sportico. Osaka’s contract with IMG expired late last year and both sides failed to reach an agreement to keep her on the agency’s roster.
“I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn’t what was expected or traditional,” Osaka told Sportico. “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 rose to prominence after defeating Serena Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open finals and went on to win three more Grand Slams, becoming the highest-paid female athlete in the world.
She made headlines last year for taking time away from the sport to focus on her mental health.
Osaka dropped out of French Open, and Wimbledon Open before announcing she would take an indefinite break after her third-round U.S. Open exit last September. She returned to the tennis circuit to compete in the Australian Open earlier this year.
Osaka told Sportico the outlet that she wants her new venture to break down barriers within sports and broader culture.
“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,” the tennis star said. “I strongly believe in the power athletes have to use our platforms to drive meaningful business.”
Osaka, 24, joins other prominent athletes such as golf legend Jack Nicklaus, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant and fellow tennis star Rafael Nadal, who have left their respective sports agencies to create their own, Sportico reported.
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