Tennis star Naomi Osaka is now a Barbie doll.
The Japanese star is set to be one of the biggest stories at the Tokyo Olympics — and her huge global fanbase now prompted toy giant Mattel to release a special series of dolls inspired by the 23-year-old.
Osaka on Tuesday revealed the first pictures of her new figurine, promoted as a Role Model Naomi Osaka doll as part of the Barbie Role Model Series.
Osaka posted on Instagram seeing her Barbie come to life has been a dream come true.
“I really hope every child is reminded that they can be and do anything,” she posted on Instagram.
“This is really seeing a dream of mine come to life, having your own Barbie and potentially seeing little kids playing with it. Omg.”
Osaka also revealed her ensemble for the figurine is inspired by the outfit she wore at the 2020 Australian Open, including a Nike dress and a Yonex tennis racquet.
Osaka has previously been featured as the inspiration behind a limited released 2019 Barbie as part of the brand’s 60-year anniversary.
However, she says this one is her favourite.
“It’s such an honour to be a part of the Barbie Role Model series, and to remind young girls that they can make a difference in the world,” Osaka said in a press release.
“I want young girls everywhere to feel empowered to dream big and to know that if they believe in themselves that anything is possible!”
Osaka last week broke her silence after her withdrawal from the French Open and Wimbledon in an essay for Time Magazine’s Olympic issue.
Osaka sparked an international firestorm when she announced she wouldn’t be doing any press conferences at the French Open, citing a lack of care for athletes’ mental health.
She is preparing to return to competition at the Tokyo Olympics, beginning July 23, and says former US first lady Michelle Obama and Michael Phelps were among those who offered support after she withdrew from the French Open.
In an essay for Time magazine’s Olympic preview issue, the four-time Grand Slam champion from Japan said Phelps, the 23-time Olympic swimming gold medallist who has opened up about his own mental health struggles, had told her that by speaking up she may have saved a life.
“If that’s true, then it was all worth it,” Osaka said of the controversy that arose when she withdrew from the French Open, where she was fined $15,000 for failing to meet mandatory media requirements.
Osaka had said that she believed post-match news conferences were detrimental to her mental health, and in her Time essay she said she still believed the format was “out of date and in great need of a refresh.
— with AFP