World No.2 Ons Jabeur has announced that she has signed to Evolve, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka's nascent sports management agency.
"New year, new beginnings," tweeted Jabeur, who reached her first two major finals last year at Wimbledon and the US Open and who is Vogue Arabia's January 2023 cover star. On Thursday, Jabeur kicked off her 2023 season on a winning note, defeating Sorana Cirstea to reach the Adelaide 1 quarterfinals.
"Some people just read that I was signing with Evolve, but they didn't read the other part, that I'm signing with my friend and Tunisian, Adel, who knows me for a long time," Jabeur told WTA Insider in Adelaide. "It's nice to sign with someone who knows my culture.
"I feel like it's something that could be great because I don't have the same profile as Naomi, but also maybe a little bit. She's the only one coming from Japan, and I'm the only one coming from the Middle East. I want to explore that and give them a chance to work with Adel."
Osaka, who launched Evolve in May last year alongside agent Stuart Duguid, shared a story of how she had first bonded with Jabeur at the 2015 WTA Finals Singapore, when both competed in the Rising Stars event.
"My immediate thought while interacting with her was, 'Wow, she's the nicest person I've ever met,'" wrote Osaka on social media. "I was extremely shy so all I could ever do was mumble out a few words, but she always came up to me, cracked jokes and made me feel more comfortable. Even now when we play the same tournaments she still does the same.
"That type of kindness is something I'll never forget and I think moments like that are what define your character. Over the years, watching her rise through the tour and become the star that she is has been incredibly joyful to watch and I can't wait to see her create more history and ascend even higher."
On the pro tour, Osaka and Jabeur have played once -- a 6-3, 6-2 win for Osaka in the third round of the 2021 Australian Open, en route to her fourth major crown.
Jabeur has been a trailblazer since the early days of her career. She is the first player from Tunisia, and the first Arab woman, to win a junior Grand Slam, to reach the Top 50, to win a WTA title and to make a major final. The 28-year-old captured her first WTA 1000 title in Madrid last May, and at Monastir in October spearheaded the first ever Hologic WTA Tour event in Tunisia.
In December, Duguid told Boardroom that Evolve's mission was less about generic racquet and clothing deals, and more on the question: "Can we make an impact outside the sport?" It's clear that Jabeur can be a perfect fit.