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Tennis: Naomi Osaka launches own sports agency: reports

Naomi Osaka, of Japan, attends a training session ahead of the Italian Open tennis tournament, in Rome, on May 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka will launch an independent management company for athletes called Evolve with her longtime agent Stuart Duguid, multiple U.S. media outlets reported Thursday.

    The Japanese tennis star tweeted a Front Office Sports post that said both she and Duguid are leaving mega sports talent agency IMG and will hold equity stakes in the new firm.

    "I've spent my career doing things my way, even when people told me that it wasn't what was expected or traditional," Osaka was quoted as saying.

    Osaka has accomplished a lot for a 24-year-old, topping Forbes' list of highest-paid female athletes for the second straight year with a record $57.3 million in earnings in the year 2021.

    The former world No. 1 also sparked a conversation around mental health in sport when she took some time away from the court to protect her mental wellbeing, after refusing to do press conferences at the 2021 French Open.

    Osaka, currently ranked 38th in the world, withdrew from the Italian Open in Rome earlier this week with a left Achilles injury. But she is scheduled to compete in this year's French Open, which begins May 22 at Paris's Stade Roland-Garros.

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