Naomi Osaka and LeBron James are teaming up for an entertainment venture


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LOS ANGELES — LeBron James and Naomi Osaka are becoming teammates in the entertainment world.

Tennis star Osaka and his agent and business partner, Stuart Duguid, are forming a media company called Hana Kuma in partnership with The SpringHill Company, which was started by NBA star James and Maverick Carter.

Tuesday’s announcement comes shortly after Osaka and Duguid launched EVOLVE, an athlete representation agency.

“There has been an explosion of color makers finally equipped with resources and a huge platform,” Osaka said in a press release about her new venture. “In the age of streaming, content has a more holistic perspective. You can see this in the popularity of television from Asia, Europe and Latin America that the unique can also be universal. My story also testifies to this. I’m so excited about what we’re building at Hana Kuma. We’ll bring stories to life with this goal in mind: to make unique perspectives feel universal and inspire people along the way. »

Osaka, 24, is a four-time Grand Slam champion who also reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings. She was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a Haitian father; the family moved to New York when Naomi was 3 and she is now based in Los Angeles.

Osaka recently said she would be skipping Wimbledon for the second year in a row. She has not competed on tour since a first-round defeat at Roland Garros last month.

According to Forbes, Osaka became the highest-paid female athlete in the world in 2020 by earning an estimated $37 million through a long list of sponsorship deals.

More recently, she has taken steps to expand her brand beyond the tennis court.

Asked about EVOLVE at Roland Garros, Osaka said: “I think role models are really important, just to see someone do something – and it makes you feel like you can do the same too. I have found it really interesting that no female athlete has done this before, but there have been so many men, so I think it’s a journey, and I feel like I’m going to learn a lot over the course of this trip.

More from AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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