It’s to recognize the 21-year-old’s win at the 2018 US Open as well as her second consecutive grand slam title at the 2019 Australian Open that helped Osaka rise from world No. 72 to No. 1 – becoming the first Asian to hold the position.
The announcement that Naomi Osaka is to be celebrated with her own Barbie doll comes when toy manufacturer Mattel marks the iconic brand’s 60th birthday while March 8 is also International Women’s Day.
Osaka, whose father is from Haiti and mother is Japanese, tweeted earlier this week that she was proud of being considered as an influential female figure to young children.
She said: “Recently a lot of parents have been coming up to me and telling me that their kids look up to me, those words literally blew me away. I was honestly so shocked and felt this huge responsibility because I remember how important my role models are.”
“Fast forward a few days and I’m here at Indian Wells, I see all these kids that look so happy to see me and they ask for pictures and autographs … Honestly I wanted to cry because my heart feels so full in these moments and I realize that it isn’t just about tennis, it’s about inspiring the next generation.”
She also added: “Honored to be selected as a Barbie Role Model to help inspire the next generation of girls,” alongside a hashtag, “You can be anything.”
Naomi Osaka is not alone in having the inspiring efforts that are celebrated by Barbie.
Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Kristina Vogel has also been commemorated by Barbie, with her doll sitting in a wheelchair.
“As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion,” said Mattel last month.