Naomi Osaka announced on Monday that toymaker Mattel has created a new Barbie doll in her likeness.
The four-time Grand Slam champion introduced the doll on her Instagram page. It's part of the "Barbie Role Model" line that the company touts as honoring "extraordinary women." The Osaka version comes complete with a tennis racket and ball and the outfit she wore during the 2020 Australian Open.
"I really hope every child is reminded that they can be and do anything," Osaka wrote alongside the release of the doll. Other women with "Role Model Barbies" in their likeness include Olympic gold medal gymnast Aly Raisman and cosmonaut Anna Kikina.
This is not Osaka's first Barbie doll. Mattel also created a "Sheroes" Barbie in her likeness in 2019.
Doll arrives amid Osaka's mental health struggles, media stand
The release of the doll arrives as Osaka has made more news off the court than on it. Osaka pulled out of the French Open and Wimbledon in recent weeks, citing mental health concerns and anxiety around facing media scrutiny.
After facing a mix of plaudits for voicing her mental health struggles and criticism for avoiding media responsibilities, Osaka wrote a guest essay for Time headlined "It's OK not to be OK." In it she defended her stance and argued for empathy in the face of mental health concerns.
"I communicated that I wanted to skip press conferences at Roland Garros to exercise self-care and preservation of my mental health," Osaka wrote. "I stand by that. Athletes are humans. Tennis is our privileged profession, and of course there are commitments off the court that coincide. But I can’t imagine another profession where a consistent attendance record (I have missed one press conference in my seven years on tour) would be so harshly scrutinized.
"Perhaps we should give athletes the right to take a mental break from media scrutiny on a rare occasion without being subject to strict sanctions."
After missing consecutive Grand Slams, Osaka plans to make her return to the court in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, where she will play for a spot on the podium in her home country.
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