Osaka, 21, is joining Mattel’s “Shero” line alongside other badass women including director Ava DuVernay, dancer Misty Copeland, Olympic gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Laurie Hernandez, and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. The tennis player, who recently won the Australian Open, told HuffPost she’s very grateful to have her very own Barbie.
“For me, it’s a really big honor,” Osaka said, adding that it’s a “bit surreal” to be in the company of such women in the Shero Barbie line. “I can only hope to be as big of a role model as those women have been. I just hope that I inspire people as well.”
Osaka, who’s half Japanese and half Haitian, added that it means a lot to her that Barbie chose to add a biracial athlete to their Shero line.
“A lot of parents of biracial kids, whenever they see me, they come up to me and sometimes they cry, they always say that their kid looks up to me and I feel like that’s a big responsibility,” she said. “But it’s also an honor because I feel like I’m representing not only me but a bunch of other kids that maybe wouldn’t have gotten that chance to be represented.”
Mattel announced the new Shero Barbies, which include Osaka and actress Yara Shahidi, as part of the company’s 60th anniversary. Barbie told HuffPost in a statement that this year’s Shero line is the “largest and most diverse” lineup of women honored by Mattel since the Shero program launched in 2015.
Other women included in this year’s Shero line are Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira, German cyclist Kristina Vogel, Chinese artist Chen Man and British model Adwoa Aboah.
“The Barbie brand believes girls should never know a world, job, or dream women haven’t conquered,” general manager and senior vice president of Barbie, Lisa McKnight, said in a statement. “Through our global platform, we are igniting a movement to help close the Dream Gap and further establish Barbie as the ultimate girl empowerment brand.”
As of right now, Osaka’s Barbie is not available to purchase.
When asked what she would tell young girls who want to pursue sports as a career, Osaka advised to “not give up on the goals that you have.” She added, “You can only try. If you try 100 percent then you leave everything on the table and you have no regrets. There’s a special satisfaction with that and, for me, I try to live my life every day like that.”