The previous record for a female athlete was set in 1992 for a S.I. for Kids Mia Hamm rookie card, which sold this past June at Goldin Auctions for $34,440.
Serena Williams’ rookie card sale this weekend has set a new record 💰— SHOT:CLOCK (@shotclock_media) October 26, 2021
The record for highest sold female athlete trading card was previously held by Mia Hamm whose card sold for $34,440 in June ⚽️#SerenaWilliams #MiaHamm #GOAT pic.twitter.com/TEOaNutSeC
“People are accepting women's trading cards as collectibles," Ken Goldin, executive chairman and founder of Goldin Auctions, said of the transaction. "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,” he added. “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 the Goldin Auctions website, Serena Williams signed the NetPro International Series Apparel Autograph collectible in blue ink and the 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.
"This particular card is serial numbered 1 out of 100," he said. "But they don't have uniform numbers in tennis. It's signed [and a similar] unsigned Serena rookie card went for $12,300."
Although Williams’s card broke a new record, it also highlights the massive disparity between female and male athletes. At the same auction, more than 60 card and memorabilia items topped the $100,000 mark, while eight reached $500,000 and over. A 2003-04 LeBron James on-card RPA (rookie patch autograph) from the UD Exquisite Collection sold for $2.46 million, and a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle in a PSA 8 sold for $2.029 million.
Goldin believes that when Williams officially retires, the value of her memorabilia will increase exponentially.
"I believe it will [get crazier] for Serena," he said. "We're gonna have new women's tennis product come out, I think that's a 100% lock. Serena—much like Jordan was included in Upper Deck basketball when they had the license for years after he retired—will be included in those products long after she's retired."