(Los Angeles) Tennis star Naomi Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam winner, has left sports management group IMG to start Evolve, her own agency, Sportico reported on Wednesday.
“I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me it wasn’t what was expected. Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as an athlete and businesswoman, as well as a way to continue being myself and doing things my way,” the Japanese woman said in a statement to the publication specializing in sports-business.
Osaka, the world’s highest-paid sportswoman for several years,’s contract with sports management giant IMG expired at the end of last year and she chose not to renew it.
Her former agent Stuart Duguid followed her to become her partner. Both have stakes in Evolve which has no other investors at this stage, according to Sportico.
“I strongly believe in the power of athletes to use their platforms of expression,” Osaka told Sportico, adding that she wants her agency to be “pioneers in breaking down barriers that still exist in sport and in culture in general”.
This week, 24-year-old Osaka withdrew ahead of the Rome tournament to recover from an Achilles tendon injury ahead of Roland Garros.
Currently ranked 38th in the world, she has shown her best on the courts this season after many difficult months mentally, due to recurring anxiety problems. She notably reached the final of the Miami Open, finally beaten by world number one Iga Swiatek.