London | Osaka splits from IMG to create its own agency

Naomi Osaka has decided to part ways with her management company, IMG, to start her own sports agency with longtime agent Stuart Duguid.

I’m excited to start this with my business partner Stuart and our plan is to use the same approach we took to building my businesses authentically and strategically as a vision for this business. I strongly believe in the power athletes have to use our platforms to generate meaningful business. Naomi Osaka

IMG, well known for its work as a sports and modeling agency, represents a number of top tennis professionals, and Osaka is the first female athlete at her level to take full control of her business interests.

According to reports, Osaka and Duguid began discussing the business at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Duguid told Reuters via email that the company, which will be called Evolve, will operate as a “small boutique and bespoke agency”.

“We were discussing the business models of some of his mentors like Kobe [Bryant] and Lebron [James]Duguid wrote. “We thought – why hasn’t any transcendent female athlete done this yet?

“It’s athlete-driven and focused on creating an overall brand image rather than quick checks with a commission attached.”

He added that he couldn’t share much about who the first customers were, saying, “It would just be the athletes who transcend their sport; or those who have the potential to do so.

Osaka, a former world number 1 and the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam, has become one of the leading advocates for the mental health and well-being of athletes since withdrawing from the French Open there. is one year old and revealed that she was suffering from depression. for years.

On Wednesday, she tweeted a compilation of clips from her early days in the game in which she discussed her career aspirations with the caption: “Hey kid you’ve come a long way and even though there have been bumps in the road , I hope you know yourself it’s going amazing.

In one of the clips, she spoke prophetically about what she could do if she weren’t a tennis player.

“I just like sports, so maybe [I would be] to like [to be] an agent at the end,” she said.

Osaka, who thinks going it alone is the logical next step in her career, hopes the creation of an athlete-focused agency will help break down barriers in the sport.

“I’ve spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me it wasn’t what was expected or traditional,” Osaka told Sportico. “Evolve is the natural next step in my journey as an athlete and businesswoman, and a way to continue being myself and doing things my way.

“I am excited to start this with my business partner Stuart and our plan is to use the same approach we have taken to grow my business authentically and strategically as a vision for this business.

“I strongly believe in the power that athletes have to use our platforms to generate meaningful business.”

Osaka hasn’t been shy about getting fully involved in the business side of her career and is willing to do things differently, taking advantage of sponsorship deals that have helped her build businesses beyond tennis.

“We’ve moved a bit away from traditional endorsements and are focusing more on real equity partnerships where we can add value, while building our own businesses at the same time,” Duguid said. “It gives a platform to take bigger swings.”


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