Naomi Osaka and her longtime agent, Stuart Duguid of IMG, have partnered to launch an independent management company called Evolve, a firm they say is designed to match the changing landscape of sports to help athletes “chart new paths, enter new spaces, and build business of their own.”
Evolve is described as “a multifaceted agency focused on brand partnerships, investing, creating athlete-owned businesses and philanthropy.” If it sounds familiar, that’s intentional as tennis star Osaka, a four-time Grand Slam champion, has used her success on the court to not only build an array of businesses but to also branch out into activism and advocacy on everything from racial equality to mental health.
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Osaka says the agency was created to better reflect the sensibilities and perspective she shares with Duguid. “I’ve never felt comfortable within the confines of just playing tennis and have always tried to push the boundary beyond sport to becoming an activist, businesswoman and philanthropist. This agency will be solely focused on helping athletes chart new paths, enter new spaces, and build business of their own.”
Over the course of their seven year partnership, Osaka and Duguid have struck partnerships with brands like Nike, Mastercard, Sweetgreen, Levi’s, FTX and Louis Vuitton, making Osaka one of the highest paid female athletes. Together, they also launched her skincare line Kinló in 2021. Per Sportico, Osaka is ranked 20th on a list of 2022’s highest paid athletes with prize money and endorsement deals worth $53.2 million.
In an interview with Sportico, Duguid said Evolve will likely consider adding a few clients in addition to Osaka and that the goal is to build her business from $50 million per year to $150 million. “Athletes have completely changed the dynamics of what’s possible in the corporate world. They are no longer just ambassadors for hire but true partners, vocal advocates, and culture shifters,” Duguid said in a statement. “This agency is about supporting the next generation of athletes who want to continue building on the foundation laid by athletes like Naomi, but who are also doing things their own way.”
Duguid has been a tennis agent since 2010, most recently serving as senior vp at IMG for the past six years. In launching Evolve, both he and Osaka have exited IMG.