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Tennis star Naomi Osaka gets own line of Barbie dolls

Naomi Osaka, who has used her position to call attention to issues of police violence and racial inequality, now has her own line of Barbie dolls. Photo: @Barbie/Twitter

Naomi Osaka, who has used her position to call attention to issues of police violence and racial inequality, now has her own line of Barbie dolls. Photo: @Barbie/Twitter

Published Jul 12, 2021

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TOKYO – Four-time Grand Slam singles champion Naomi Osaka now has her own line of Barbie dolls.

The 23-year-old world No. 2 tennis player, who has used her position to call attention to issues of police violence and racial inequality, became a part of Mattel Inc's push to make its iconic toy line more diverse with dolls based on different role models and professions.

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"It's such an honor to be a part of the Barbie Role Model series, and to remind young girls that they can make a difference in the world. I want young girls everywhere to feel empowered to dream big," Osaka, who grew up idolizing 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, said in a statement.

Mattel's tie-up with Japan's Osaka is the latest example of brands becoming more comfortable with taking a stand on social issues and banking on partnerships with female athletes to pull in new customers.

In April, Gap Inc's Athleta brand signed four-time Olympic gymnastics champion Simone Biles for a new apparel partnership, with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

Mattel also has Barbie dolls modeled on U.S. soccer player Alex Morgan and Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

"Barbie is committed to celebrating real-life role models... remarkable women who are breaking boundaries and inspiring the next generation," Mattel said in a statement, announcing the Osaka doll that is sporting a Nike tennis outfit and a racket.

Osaka, who did not compete in the Wimbledon championships for personal reasons, following her withdrawal from the French Open for a mental health break, will be competing in the Tokyo Olympics later this month.

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