Renowned tennis player Naomi Osaka has left her longtime sports agency and opted to launch one of her own.
In partnership with her agent Stuart Duguid, Osaka plans to form EVOLVE agency from the ground up. According to Sportico, the olympian has chosen to not renew her contract with sports agency IMG after its recent expiration.
Osaka said, “I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn’t what was expected or traditional.” She added, “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 and Duguid reportedly began discussing the idea of building a sports agency at last year’s Tokyo Olympics. While many male athletes have made the move to leave big agencies for their own, Osaka will be the first high-level female athlete to heed full control of her business endeavors and build an agency, Sportico reports.
Duguid told Sportico, “We were discussing the business models of some of her mentors like Kobe and Lebron. We thought – why has no transcendent female athlete done that yet.”
Her long-time sports agent said he envisions EVOLVE as a “small boutique and bespoke agency.”
Duguid added, “It’s athlete-driven and focused on big picture brand building rather than quick checks with a commission attached.”
At this time, the duo will hold equity stakes in the new sports agency with no other investors.
According to Sportico, Duguid had a heavy hand in guiding Osaka to become the highest-paid female athlete in the world with $57.3 million to her name.
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