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Naomi Osaka launches her own sports agency in “Natural Next Step”

Tennis star Naomi Osaka is starting her own sports agency called Evolve, and she’s already attracted the interest of Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving.

“You have room in your agency for hoopers. Just asking,” Irving wrote in a tweet Thursday.

“Always room,” Osaka replied.

Osaka teams up with his agent, Stuard Duguid, on the new venture. She is leaving IMG after six years, Sportico reported.

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

Naomi Osaka said the venture was “the natural next step”.

Quality sports images via Getty Images

Duguid told Reuters he and Osaka came up with the idea during the Tokyo Olympics last summer. The business, he said, will have a “small boutique” focus.

“We were discussing the business models of some of his mentors like Kobe (Bryant) and LeBron (James),” Duguid told the news service. “We thought – why has no transcendent female athlete done this yet.”

Osaka’s expanded branding — a four-time Grand Slam singles champion who represents Japan but learned the game primarily in Florida — comes at a difficult time in her career.

The 24-year-old won her fourth Grand Slam singles title at the 2021 Australian Open. Later that year, she dropped out of the French Open due to mental health issues. Osaka, who was reduced to tears by a heckler in Indian Wells in March, continued to openly discuss her depression and anxiety.

The former No.1’s ranking is now 38, and she hasn’t won a tournament since winning Australia.

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