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Tennis star Osaka gets own line of Barbie dolls

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July 12 (Reuters) - 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 (MAT.O) push to make its iconic toy line more diverse with dolls based on different role models and professions.

"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.

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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.

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 30, 2021 Japan's Naomi Osaka in action during her first-round match against Romania's Patricia Maria Tig REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

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

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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Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli

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