Four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka has announced that she is launching her own sports agency, Evolve.
“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. “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 as she explored a renewal with more flexibility in the kind of partnerships she could do, it became clear a renewal was not going to work.
Osaka started Evolve with her agent Stuart Duguid, who has also left IMG. Both will hold equity stakes in Evolve. There are no outside investors at this point.
The move isn’t unprecedented for athletes, though it’s rare.
LeBron James started LRMR for his marketing work in 2006 and entrusted close friend Rich Paul with his on-court contracts, while Maverick Carter handled business off the court.
Kevin Durant and Rich Kleinman founded Thirty Five Ventures in 2016 to operate the business of the four-time scoring champion.
However, Naomi Osaka is the first female athlete at that level to take full control of her business endeavors and attempt to build an agency.
In a recent statement to Sportico, Duguid said, “The core of Evolve is building Naomi’s business from $50 million a year to $150 million a year.”