Arguably the greatest female tennis player ever, Serena Williams earned her 23rd Grand Slam at the 2017 Australian Open. She defeated her older sister Venus in the final to move past Steffi Graf’s record of 22 titles.
It’s no surprise that serious attention is paid to her top rookie cards, which were released almost two decades ago. Williams took part in her last professional tournament at the 2022 US Open, retiring after a glittering 27-year career.
Here’s a roundup with 10 of the best Serena Williams rookie cards to collect, including lots of info about how and why they managed to make the list.
The Best Serena Williams Rookie Cards
You’ll find a few early Serena Williams rookie cards from before the turn of the millennium, but most of the attention is paid to options from 2003 NetPro sets.
10. 1999 Sports Illustrated for Kids Serena Williams #814 (eBay)
As with Tiger Woods, Williams has an early release that was produced as part of a nine card sheet for Sports Illustrated for Kids back in December 1999. They were meant to be cut out, which is why it has perforated edges. There’s also a Williams sisters dual release from 2000, as well as another early option from 2002 to look out for. Expect to pay top dollar for pristine versions.
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9. 2003 NetPro Serena Williams RC #100 (eBay)
The 2003 NetPro set is where you’ll find various base rookie cards and inserts featuring some of the top names in tennis. An affordable option compared to many of the rarer Serena Williams RCs listed below, this card is a short print, but it’s relatively easy to locate.
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8. 2003 NetPro Williams Sisters RC #51 (eBay)
Joined by her sister Venus, this rookie card focuses on the phenomenal duo during their early years. They met 31 times in professional tournaments (most recently at the 2020 Top Seed Open), with Serena leading their head-to-head 19–12.
You’ll also be able to find a Glossy version that was included in the factory Premier Edition set, with a print run of 5,000 copies.
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7. 2003 NetPro Elite 2000 Serena Williams #2 (eBay)
The NetPro Elite 2000 set contains this popular card which features a strong action shot of the tennis star. The full-bleed design lists her name in small text on the left, and it’s limited to only 2,000 copies. There’s also a Glossy version with a print run of 100, which originally fell at a rate of one per set.
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6. 2003 NetPro International Series Serena Williams #2 (eBay)
Another popular full-bleed image of Williams with her arms raised in victory, this card was released as part of a limited Premier Edition Glossy set numbered to 5,000. There’s also a Preview version of this card (#P2) that is serial-numbered to 500 copies.
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5. 2003 NetPro Serena Williams RC #1 (eBay)
If you hadn’t guessed by now, NetPro released a large selection of Serena Williams cards in 2003. This collectible is seen as the offitruecial Serena Williams rookie card by some hobbyists, as the first base card from the set.
As with the Williams sisters card from the same collection, you’ll also be able to find a Glossy version of this RC that was included in the factory Premier Edition set, with a print run of 5,000. It works out to be one of the more important options when all is said and done.
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4. 2003 NetPro International Series Court Authentic Serena Williams Relics (eBay)
What about a match-worn apparel relic, limited to just 500 copies? Found in the 2003 NetPro International Premium Glossy Series, the set featured the first ever tennis authentic apparel cards or pack issued authentic autographed cards.
A strong design featured two large pieces of the star’s clothing on the left. There’s also a second relic with a different image, limited to 1,000 copies, that is cheaper in comparison.
Serena Williams, Pete Sampras, Anna Kournikova, Lleyton Hewitt, Venus Williams, and Martina Hingis headline the star studded Court Authentic series.
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3. 2003 NetPro International Series Court Authentic Serena Williams Autographs (eBay)
Let’s up the stakes by adding an autograph. The same basic design as the relic seen above, these signed Serena Williams cards were serial numbered to 500 and included the first ever officially licensed autographed cards for tennis. There’s only a couple of options that can match up, in terms of either prestige or values.
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2. 2003 NetPro International Series Promo Serena Williams #PROMO (eBay)
This Serena Williams promo has a print run of less than 100 copies. These were issued directly to hobby shops back in 2003 and are seldom seen today. It shares a similar design to the NetPro International Premium Glossy Series, aside from a green background which helps it to stand out from the crowd. This card only comes up for sale every so often.
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1. 2003 NetPro International Series Court Authentic Serena Williams RPA #2A (eBay)
We’ve looked at a patch, and an auto, but a signed Serena Williams relic is by far the most important card to make the list. The 2003 NetPro Elite Serena Williams RPA is limited to only 100 copies, making it one of the rarest options overall.
The double patch is match worn, while a PSA 5 graded version sold by Goldin Auctions went for $44,280 in October 2021. The price was a record for any women’s sports card, beating the record sale previously held by a 1992 S.I. for Kids Mia Hamm RC.
Check prices of 2003 NetPro Elite Serena Williams on eBay
Interested in picking up one of the best Serena Williams rookie cards? We’ve put together a brief buyer’s guide.
Sticking with 2003 cards, there are lots of cheaper options to chase given the sheer number of Serena Williams cards included in NetPro sets. A great mid-range option would be the 2003 NetPro Elite Serena Williams rookie patch, which lacks the signature.
The Best Serena Williams Rookie Card Investment
The Promo card, or the rookie patch auto would be our pick if working with a hypothetical unlimited budget. Both are tough to locate, so we’d also look at Williams’ hard-signed rookie auto. The numbered parallels are also a great option if they happen to be in pristine condition.
The end of an era when Williams called time of one of the most impressive careers in the history of the sport, she leaves an endless list of records that aren’t going to be broken anytime soon. It’s hard to think of any female athletes who were dominant for such a long period. Her RPA holds the record for any women’s sports card.
It’s fair to say that her cards are some of the safer investment options within the hobby. It’s not unheard of for hobbyists to spend up to five figures to add the best copies to their collection.