May 22, 2024 - Business

Mattel unveils Venus Williams Barbie "Role Model" doll

: Venus Williams attends the 10th Breakthrough Prize Ceremony at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts.

U.S. tennis star Venus Williams at an April event in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize

Mattel is making Barbie dolls depicting U.S. tennis star Venus Williams and eight other athletes who've "broken boundaries" and encouraged girls to stay in sports, the company announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: These "one-of-a-kind Role Model dolls" are part of a Barbie program aimed at "leveling the playing field for girls globally, in sports and beyond" and to "close the gap that comes between girls and their full potential," per a company statement announcing the toys ahead of the Paris Olympic Games.

A photo showing Barbies of sports stars including Venus Williams (second left)/
How the sports stars including Venus Williams (second from left) will look as Barbies. Photo: Mattel/Barbie

The big picture: Mattel has over the years been criticized for promoting what some said was a narrow, unrealistic ideal of what is beautiful with Barbie, but Axios' Kelly Tyko notes it has been working to diversify by adding more body sizes and features, an array of skin tones and hair textures.

  • Krista Berger, senior vice president of Barbie and global head of dolls, Mattel, said in a statement the dolls were part of Barbie's 65th anniversary celebrations and recognized "the impact of sports in fostering self-confidence, ambition, and empowerment among the next generation."

What they're saying: "Throughout my career, I've always been driven by the idea of shattering glass ceilings and staying true to myself, and Barbie's mission couldn't resonate more deeply with that ethos," Williams said in a statement Wednesday.

  • "I'm honored to be recognized as a sports role model and join forces with Team Barbie to continue empowering the next generation of young girls to never stop believing in their dreams."

Details: The other Barbie roll model dolls being launched are:

  • French boxer Estelle Mossely; soccer players Christine Sinclair, of Canada, and Mary Fowler, of Australia; gymnasts Alexa Moreno, of Mexico, and Rebeca Andrade, of Brazil; Spanish Paralympian Susana Rodriguez; Italian swimmer Federica Pellegrini and; Polish sprinter Ewa Swoboda.

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