Mattel announced Wednesday that the company will produce Barbie dolls to honor tennis champion Venus Williams and eight other prominent women athletes. According to Mattel, the initiative aims to recognize the impact of sports in fostering self-confidence, ambition and empowerment among young girls.

“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,” said Williams, who has secured seven Grand Slam singles titles, via the Associated Press.

Joining Williams in this honor are gymnasts Rebeca Andrade and Alexa Moreno, soccer players Mary Fowler and Christine Sinclair, boxer Estelle Mossely, swimmer Federica Pellegrini, paratriathlete Susana Rodriguez and track and field sprinter Ewa Swoboda.

Krista Berger, a representative from Mattel, emphasized the importance of this project.

“The impact of sports in fostering self-confidence, ambition, and empowerment among the next generation is something we deeply believe in,” Berger said.

Williams, a trailblazer in tennis and a strong advocate for gender equality, sees the recognition as a testament to her life's work both on and off the court. Over the years, she has become a symbol of resilience, grace and excellence, inspiring countless young girls to pursue their dreams.

A challenging year for Venus Williams

Venus Williams (USA) hits a forehand against Diana Shnaider (not pictured) on day two of the Miami Open
© Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the honor, 2024 has been a challenging year for Williams on the court. Her first-round match at the Miami Open in March ended in disappointment, marking her 34th loss in her last 43 matches dating back to the 2019 US Open. The 43-year-old has struggled this season, having lost her last four matches overall and starting the year 0-2 after her return at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, via

Against Diana Shnaider, Williams faced a tough challenge. Shnaider broke Williams three times in the first set and, after exchanging four breaks to begin the second set, capitalized on Williams' double fault at 3-4, eventually serving out the match with composure.

Her sister, Serena Williams, attended the match with friends including former coach Patrick Mouratoglou and tennis player Grigor Dimitrov.

Williams sisters as tennis inspirations

American tennis rising star Coco Gauff has credited the Williams sisters as inspirations. After her first Grand Slam title at the 2023 US Open the then-19-year-old stunned World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka with a comeback victory, winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. The watershed moment in sports history placed Gauff in the footsteps of the Williams sisters, who achieved similar feats early in their careers.

In her post-match press conference, Gauff expressed profound admiration for the Williams sisters.

“[Serena and Venus Williams] are the reason why I have this (US Open) trophy,” Gauff said at the time. “All the things that they had to go through, they made it easier for someone like me to do this.”