Noami Osaka, the Japanese female tennis icon, has launched her own sports agency, Evolve, after cutting ties with her previous representatives, the international sport and entertainment firm IMG, at the end of last year.

Osaka, 24, is launching Evolve alongside her agent Stuart Duguid, with both leaving IMG and both set to hold equity stakes in Evolve, which currently has no outside investors.

Osaka has said that conversations around setting up their own agency started during her time at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Speaking to Sportico, shie is quoted as saying: “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.”

Duguid added that Evolve would be “athlete-driven and focused on big picture brand building rather than quick checks with a commission attached” and that initial clients would be limited to “athletes who transcend their sports; or those with the potential to do so.”

He has also now said that the firm will initially operate as a “small boutique and bespoke agency.”

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Osaka reportedly evaluated renewing her deal with IMG, which expired at the end of last year, before deciding to strike out on her own with Duguid instead. 

The Japanese tennis icon already has investment stakes and equity in multiple brand partners, including Hyperice, Sweetgreen, Modern Health, FTX (through a deal struck in March this year), and Autograph.

She also has her own swimwear and sleepwear ranges.

As of the last valuation from Forbes, in January this year, Osaka’s earnings figure for 2021 – the vast majority of which came from endorsements as opposed to prize money winnings – came to $57.3 million.