Serena Williams hasn’t been spotted on the tennis court for months, but she’s still managing to break records off it.
The 23-time grand slam champion hasn’t played since retiring hurt in the opening round at Wimbledon in July and recently announced that her 2021 season is over.
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But the American star is still making headlines in a big way.
This week it was revealed that a rookie card of Williams from 2003 sold at auction for US$44,280 – just shy of AU$60,000.
That mark is the highest ever for any women’s sports card, breaking the previous record of $34,440 for a rookie card of footballer Mia Hamm from 1993.
According to ESPN, Williams’ autographed card was purchased by Alt, an alternative-asset trading platform, on behalf of a private client.
“People are accepting women’s trading cards as collectables,” Ken Goldin, executive chairman and founder of Goldin Auctions, said.
“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.”
Serena Williams hoping to be fit for Australian Open
Williams, 40, is hoping to return to the WTA tour in time for the Australian Open in January.
However American great Pam Shriver recently said she doubts Williams will be able to recover easily from too many more injuries.
“Obviously she’s reaching a point where, with what we saw at the Wimbledon, with the slip, the injury, she couldn’t finish Wimbledon,” Shriver said.
“She’s getting to a point where, physically, obviously, she is walking that fine line, where it’s almost one injury away from not being able to continue on and that’s gonna be a difficult day for tennis and obviously for her.”
The injury forced Williams to skip the US Open in August, leaving her stranded on 23 grand slam titles.
She is still one major behind the all-time record held by Australian great Margaret Court.
The 40-year-old hasn’t won a grand slam title since the 2017 Australian Open, finishing runner-up on four occasions since.
The American star is already the oldest woman to win a grand slam singles crown, taking the 2017 Australian Open title at age 35 while pregnant.
Williams won 10 grand slam titles in her 30s, taking each crown at least twice, and was a runner-up six more times, at least once in all four events.
Whether or not she ever matches Court’s record, many consider her the greatest women’s tennis player ever.
“Either way she’s the greatest female player in my book that has ever played, one of the greatest athletes, period, that has ever played,” said US legend John McEnroe.
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