Venus Williams among women athletes honoured as Barbie doll

Seven-times Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and Australian soccer player Mary Fowler are among nine athletes to get a Barbie doll in their likeness as toy maker Mattel seeks to shine a light on women sports role models ahead of the Paris Olympics.

Mattel unveiled the dolls on last week, each with their bespoke accessories. Fowler's wears gloves and holds a football while Williams' doll, dressed in an all-white tennis dress and visor as well as wearing earrings, comes with a miniature racket. The former world number one said she hoped to motivate young girls into sports with the doll. “I literally can’t imagine my life without sports and without the game," Williams said in a video, in which she held the doll.

"I want other young girls to have that invaluable experience of playing a sport and what it teaches you and what you learn and what you take from it, not just that moment (but) for the rest of your life... I think it’s so important for girls to be in sports." The dolls, unveiled as Barbie turns 65 this year.