Highest earning female tennis star Naomi Osaka has left IMG to start her own sports agency Evolve. Osaka’s contract with IMG expired at the end of 2021. In addition to managing Osaka’s business deals, Evolve expects to sign up new clients.
Joining her at Evolve will be her former longtime Stuart Duguid, who has also left IMG. Among tennis players, only Roger Federer earns more money in endorsements than Naomi Osaka.
Speaking of the move, Duguid told Sportico:
The core of Evolve is building Naomi’s business from $50 million a year to $150 million a year,” Duguid told the website.
In the last few years, Naomi Osaka has taken equity ownership in companies instead of signing endorsement deals with brands. Osaka has her own swimwear and sleep lines. She recently founded a skincare company, Kinlo.
IMG has had high profile departures in the past decade. Roger Federer left IMG to start Team 8 with his agent Tony Godsick. Rafael Nadal also left IMG with his agent Carlos Costa. But Osaka is the first top female athlete to leave IMG and start her own sports agency.
Sports agencies such as IMG often take a commission of 15 to 20% of a player’s endorsement earnings. Starting their own agency allows players puts the 15 to 20% earnings back in their pocket. But Osaka will still owe IMG commissions on deals negotiated by IMG while she was with the firm.