Naomi Osaka’s tennis career, one of the greatest sports in the world, has acquired some familiar characteristics in the last 16 months.
His achievements on the court were limited by the dismissal imposed by the series to manage his battle with mental health, motivational challenges and sometimes physical ailments, but he achieved tremendous success outside the court and strengthened his status as one of them. The world’s highest paid athletes and the highest paid female athletes.
As he sits at the Italian Open to look for the Achilles heel and prepare for the second Grand Slam of the year, the French Open scheduled for later this month, Osaka announced he would launch a representative agency to further control his ascent. Business portfolio. Osaka and its longtime agent, Stuart Duguid, have left IMG, a sports and entertainment conglomerate, to launch Evolve, which manages Osaka’s business interests and potentially other client interests that the agency may sign.
The launch of Evolve about Osaka’s decision was first announced by Sportico.
Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka, 24, made about $ 60 million last year, according to Forbes, about $ 55 million from more than a dozen corporate sponsors. He was ranked 12th on Forbes’ list of highest paid athletes along with Tiger Woods. The first place in the ranking is taken by mixed martial arts performer Conor McGregor, who earned $ 180 million.
In an interview Wednesday, Duguid said Osaka’s top priority remains to win tennis matches and tournaments. He says his typical day involves training and treatment with his physiotherapist in the morning, followed by lunch, but as soon as it is over, he almost always wants to get involved with his cultural or business interests.
“He’s not someone who likes to play video games and enjoy Netflix all day long,” said Duguid, who has worked closely with Osaka since he was a teenager.
Osaka’s rating has dropped over the last year and a half, mainly because he has played very little. It was ranked second in the world at the beginning of 2021, but dropped to 85th this year. He reached the Miami Open final in April and is in 38th place and hopes to return to the top ten by the end of the year.
“I would be lying if I said I did not want to be number one again,” he said at the Miami tournament.
An IMG spokesman declined to comment.
The loss of the Osaka-scale star is a significant loss for the company, however, it is likely that it will continue to make money on existing approval deals that have been negotiated on its behalf. He is one of the transcendental tennis stars that IMG has represented over the last two decades. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have left the IMG Group in recent years to start a business with their agents, Tony Godsick and Carlos Costa.
For Osaka, Evolve’s goal is not just to save money by paying a commission to a third party, but to increase its business portfolio to $ 150 million annually in the coming years, from about $ 50 million today, but not by signing deals. More company logos on her tennis costumes.
Duguid said Osaka might actually reduce its approval portfolio. The Evolve model resembles a business created by Osaka’s several role models in the sports industry, many of whom have become close friends, including LeBron James and Stephen Curry. Osaka was also close to Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash in 2020 and who was his early mentor.
After the Tokyo Olympics, he weighed in on an enterprise like Evolve, where he lit an Olympic cauldron and was the face of the Games in Japan, his homeland. Osaka wanted more freedom to invest in business, own a stake in them, and grow their own. He started Kinlò, a skin care product company that focuses on people with melancholy, or dark skin tones, last year.
The announcement came days after Osaka left the U.S. Open after being upset in the third round by Leila Fernandez, an undecided Canadian. He said at a post-match press conference that he intended to take an indefinite break from tennis. He had previously rested for seven weeks after being knocked out of the French Open last spring due to a conflict with tournament organizers. Osaka said he would not attend mandatory press conferences after the matches. Organizers threatened to expel him from the tournament if he did not fulfill his media obligations, so he left Osaka.
Neither the breaks nor his drop in ratings seemed to affect his ability to grow his business on the court. Now, Duguid has said he will try to maintain a leading position on the court as he tries to regain what he was before.
“This is what makes him itch on the side,” he said.