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Serena Williams rookie cards rising in value, leading way among female athletes

Trading cards featuring female athletes continue to soar during the sports collectible boom. Tennis legend Serena Williams is leading the current surge.

Ebay reported earlier this year a huge spike in the sale of trading cards featuring female athletes, with demand for WNBA and women’s soccer cards leading the surge.

In March, sales of WNBA cards were up 1,100 percent, while women’s soccer cards were up more than 172 percent, according to eBay. The top-selling female athletes at the time were soccer star Alex Morgan ($16,000 for a 1/1 Immaculate Collection patch auto card) and tennis star Serena Williams ($14,499 for a 2003 Netpro Elite 2000 Serena and Roger Federer rookie card and $14,383 for a 2003 Netpro Serena rookie card).

Two months later, soccer star Mia Hamm more than doubled those prices, with her 1992 SI For Kids rookie card selling for $34,440 at Goldin Auctions. It was the highest-selling price of all time for a trading card featuring a female athlete.

Female athlete cards continue to surge, with tennis legend Serena Williams again leading the way. As Online Auctioneer Larry Canale reports in the Nov. 1 issue of Sports Collectors Digest, a PSA 10 of William’s 2003 Netpro Elite rookie card recently sold for $25,101 in a September eBay auction.

2003 Netpro Elite Serena Williams rookie card.

2003 Netpro Elite Serena Williams rookie card. 

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Williams, who recently turned 40 (Sept. 26, 2021), has long held major appeal to tennis fans and beyond. She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, a record by any player in what’s known as the Open Era (which began in 1968, when Grand Slam tournaments allowed pros to compete with amateurs). The only woman with more Grand Slam singles titles: Margaret Court.

For one amazing stretch of 186 consecutive weeks, Williams was the No. 1-ranked singles player in the world, per the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Among active players, she has 39 Grand Slam titles combined in singles, doubles and mixed doubles competition.

So, it’s no surprise to see collectors clamoring for her rookie card. The Netpro Elite that sold for $25,101 was buoyed by its PSA 10 grade, as was the RC that sold for $14,393 in March. Another Williams cards — a 2003 Netpro Glossy Preview #P2, also graded PSA 10, sold for $13,799 earlier this year.

Back of 2003 Serena Williams Netpro Elite rookie card.

Back of 2003 Serena Williams rookie card. 

Two more recent sales also demonstrate the demand for Williams cards. A PSA 9 example of her rookie card sold in August for $7,408 on 18 bids, while a PSA 6 drew $1,669.

Additional PSA 10 examples of Williams’ rookie card are currently being offered on eBay for $6,000-$15,000, while a PSA 8 Elite Glossy RC is listed for $10,999.

Larry Canale contributed to this article.