This week, sports auction memorabilia has been on fire with record sales for iconic sports figures.
Now Serena Williams has made a different kind of history when her rookie card sold for $44,280. Williams’ 2003 rookie card was sold at Goldin Auctions, a New Jersey-based auction house, setting a new record price for female-athlete cards.
A steal at that price. It's her most rare rookie card.
— AlexisOhanian 7️⃣7️⃣6️⃣ (@alexisohanian) October 25, 2021
The collectible auctioned as 2003 NetPro International Series Apparel Autograph #2A Serena Williams Signed Rookie Dual Patch Card (#001/100) – PSA EX 5.
The card was graded EX 5 by PSA. For non-collectors, this means PSA EX-5 cards have minor rounding at the corners that is becoming evident, according to PSA Authentication and Grading Services.
Serena Williams 2003 NetPro Elite Star /500 20th Anniversary Buyback /1. Still in the original bag, this Rookie Card is part of the already scarce 2003 Elite Star 500 set. NetPro included it as part of its popular 20th Anniversary release gold stamping it “1/1”.#cooltenniscards pic.twitter.com/psAVkO6QnT
— Cool Tennis Cards (@cooltenniscards) October 26, 2021
However, surface wear or printing defects are more visible with the possibility of minor chipping on the card’s edges. In addition, there is a loss of original gloss that will be more apparent.
So what makes else makes the rookie card so unique?
First, the card is in excellent condition.
According to the Goldin Auctions website, Serena Williams signed the NetPro International Series Apparel Autograph collectible in blue ink. Two apparel swatches that Williams wore in a match are also included, located on the front of the card.
In addition, the limited-edition piece is literally a one-of-one, as the card is serial-numbered “001/100.” On the back of the card, NetPro attests to the authenticity of the signature and memorabilia.
Williams For The Win
Williams leapfrogged over the last record sale for any women’s sports card. Mia Hamm’s Sports Illustrated For Kids 1992 rookie card sold in late June for $34,440 also via Goldin Auctions.
Serena Williams’ rookie card sale this weekend has set a new record 💰
— SHOT:CLOCK (@shotclock_media) October 26, 2021
“People are accepting women’s trading cards as collectibles,” said Ken Goldin, executive chairman and founder of Goldin Auctions, to ESPN. “We’ve seen that gradually increase over the past three years, with a heavy increase in the second half of 2020 up through 2021. On forum boards and social media, I see people looking for women’s sports cards.
“The effect you have with Serena is that there are a lot of people putting together GOAT collections. They want Pele, Ali, Jordan, Tiger, Brady … and they include Serena. I think that’s the single biggest impact that is lifting her cards above all other women athletes.”
According to ESPN, the card was purchased by Alt on behalf of a private client. Alt is an alternative-asset trading platform. According to Alt, alternative assets are those that cannot be categorized as stocks, bonds, or certificates. Collectibles like NFTs and sports cards are considered alternative assets.
Black Memorabilia Excellence
On Sunday, a pair of Michael Jordan game-worn sneakers from his rookie season sold for $1.472 million to high-end card collector Nick Fiorella.
“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”
— 🎃 Alexander Benton 🎃 (@Alex_E_Benton) October 22, 2021
Jordan wore the sneakers in his fifth NBA game, where “His Airness” had a seemingly average 17-point, five-rebound, and five-assist game against the Denver Nuggets.
Earlier this week, a 2003-04 an Upper Deck Exquisite LeBron James rookie card sold at Goldin Auctions for $2.46 million. According to Sports Collectors Daily, James’ rookie card also set a new record when it bested a 2003-04 Upper Deck Exquisite Rookie Patch autograph that sold for a little over $2 million.
Williams’ card sale shows that the market for women’s sports memorabilia, especially featuring Black women, is heating up.