Venus Williams among sporting figures to get own Barbie doll

Venus Williams attends the Breakthrough Prize awards in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 13, 2024. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Seven-times Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and Australian soccer player Mary Fowler are among nine athletes to get a Barbie doll in their likeness as toy maker Mattel seeks to shine a light on women sports role models ahead of the Paris Olympics.

Mattel unveiled the dolls on Wednesday, each with their bespoke accessories. Fowler's wears gloves and holds a football while Williams' doll, dressed in an all white tennis dress and visor as well as wearing earrings, comes with a miniature racket.

The former world number one said she hoped to motivate young girls into sports with the doll.

“I literally can’t imagine my life without sports and without the game," Williams said in a video, in which she held the doll.

"I want other young girls to have that invaluable experience of playing a sport and what it teaches you and what you learn and what you take from it, not just that moment (but) for the rest of your life... I think it’s so important for girls to be in sports."

Other sports figures to have a doll in their likeness include French boxer Estelle Mossely, Polish sprinter Ewa Swoboda, Spanish doctor and paratriathlon athlete Susana Rodriguez, Italian former swimmer Federica Pellegrini, Canadian soccer player Christine Sinclair as well as Mexican and Brazilian gymnasts, Alexa Moreno and Rebeca Andrade.

The dolls, unveiled as Barbie turns 65 this year, "(recognise) the impact of sport in fostering self-confidence and ambition among the next generation", Krista Berger, senior vice president of Barbie and Mattel’s Global Head of Dolls, said.

“By shining a light on these inspirational athletes and their stories, we hope to champion the belief that every young girl deserves the opportunity to pursue her passions and turn her dreams into reality," she said in a statement.

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Toby Davis)

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