“I’ve built my career by taking a different approach than those around me,” Osaka said in a post on her Instagram account. “Because my journey has been so different, it has opened my eyes to all the incredible stories out there. Stories that are global, about a variety of cultures and viewpoints, about important social issues,” said she added.
The four-time Grand Slam champion has often spoken about her identity, her mental health and the pressures placed on athletes. The new company will do “bold, playful stories like me,” she said.
James, 37, a four-time NBA champion, said he was “incredibly proud” to work alongside Osaka on the new venture as part of his SpringHill Co., which he started with Maverick Carter.
“This incredible woman and the stories she will bring to life is EXACTLY what we are talking about!!!” he tweeted.
The production company will offer TV shows, documentaries and animated programs, Osaka told The New York Times, which first reported the story. She added that she couldn’t say yet if she would star in anything herself.
The company is part of a growing portfolio for Osaka, an off-court entrepreneur and one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world. She offers skincare and fashion lines, and she runs a sports agency, Evolve, with agent Stuart Duguid. The agency signed fiery Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios earlier this month.
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Osaka pulled out of Britain’s Wimbledon tournament earlier this month, citing a left Achilles tendon injury. She went through the taped toe injury at Roland Garros in May, but fell to American Amanda Anisimova, 7-5, 6-4, in the first round.
Osaka, formerly the best player in the world, is ranked 42nd by the Women’s Tennis Association after missing a significant number of competitions in recent years.