Serena Williams Rookie Card Sells For $117,000 ... Most Expensive Women's Sports Card Ever

Serena Williams has just added yet another amazing achievement to her resume ... one of her rookie cards just sold for $117,000, making it the most expensive women's sports card ever made.

TMZ Sports has confirmed the 1999 Sports Illustrated For Kids piece just sold at the PWCC January Premier Auction ... and its $117k price tag shattered the previous record for a women's sports card (also set by Williams) by nearly $75,000.

The card is incredible -- because it came out of a perforated set in a Sports Illustrated For Kids magazine over two decades ago, not many survived at all ... but this one was somehow given a perfect 10 rating.

The rare piece -- which features a young Serena in the middle of a forehand shot -- has perfect corners and perfect centering.

On the back, it has a description of her game, which started out with the sentence, "Serena is the hottest rising star in women's tennis."

Another Serena card, meanwhile, also sold for big coin at the PWCC auction this month -- with a 2003 Netpro Elite Glossy Tennis Serena Williams Rookie card fetching $96,000.

PWCC exec Jesse Craig tells us the huge dollar amount for the cards "really solidify [Serena] as one of the Greatest of All Times in tennis -- be it men's or women's."

"This is also a huge milestone for women’s sports cards in general as it breaks the six-figure sales barrier for the first time," Craig added.

Craig continued, saying the prices also show "collectors consider her as one of the greatest athletes of all time regardless of the sport."

Williams has dominated her entire career -- holding the most major titles in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles combined among active players -- so owning a piece of history from her certainly seems like a worthwhile investment.

Tennis Star Nick Kyrgios Drills Child In Crowd With Frustration Shot ... Apologizes With Racket

Scary moment at the Australian Open -- tennis star Nick Kyrgios smacked a loose ball out of frustration during a doubles match ... and it ended up nailing a young fan in the crowd.

Fortunately, the kid appeared to be OK after Kyrgios apologized with a gift racket.

The wild play all went down Monday during Kyrgios' doubles event with partner Thanasi Kokkinakis ... when Kyrgios got pissed over a missed serve.

You can see in footage from the Open, Kyrgios rifled a ball into the ground, and it ended up ricocheting straight into the stands and right into a kid's stomach.

The boy was so visibly hurt and upset ... Kyrgios himself was shaken up on the court.

Nick, though, collected himself and immediately grabbed one of his spare rackets to make up for the major blunder. And, it seemed the child was going to be just fine after the present.

"I saw it heading towards the kid and I thought, "Oh, no, I am getting defaulted," Kyrgios said of the scene to Channel Nine after the match. "I was glad he was OK and I gave him the racket."

This isn't the first time Kyrgios has made headlines at this month's tourney -- just last week, the 26-year-old took a swig of a fan's beer after defeating his opponent.

The fans in attendance loved it ... but the gesture didn't come without controversy, as some wondered if event organizers would come down hard on the Aussie ... given the COVID drama that went down with Novak Djokovic in the buildup to the tourney.

But, Nick has yet to face any discipline for the not-so-safe action.

As for the doubles match Monday ... Kyrgios and Kokkinakis went on to defeat their opponents to advance to the next round.

Tennis Star Nick Kyrgios Takes A Swig Of Beer From Fan's Cup ... After Australian Open Win

Tennis star Nick Kyrgios committed a huge COVID no-no on Tuesday -- celebrating his Australian Open win by taking a swig of a fan's beer.

Check out the clip ... after Kyrgios defeated his opponent, Liam Broady, in the first round, he went over to some fans and had a beer put in his face.

The supporter holding the suds appeared to urge Nick to drink -- and after a few seconds of debating it, he caved and took a sip from the guy's cup.

Of course, the fans in attendance loved every second of it -- encouraging the tennis star to keep drinking -- but it might not have been the best optics for the major event.

Even though the 26-year-old Kyrgios was born and raised in Australia and loves his fans there -- given all the COVID drama that just went down with Novak Djokovic in the country, event organizers couldn't have been thrilled to see the scene.

You'll recall, Djokovic was just booted from the country after Australian government officials said his COVID vax status posed a threat to public safety. Maskless sipping of strangers' drinks might just fall in the same vein.

No word yet on if Kyrgios will face any type of reprimand for the actions.

In the meantime, Nick's next match is slated for Wednesday against Daniil Medvedev.

Serena Williams 4-Year-Old Daughter Shows Off Backhand ... Just Like Mom!!!

Serena Williams' young daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., is already showin' she's got tennis in her DNA ... the 4-year-old hit the court to work on her backhand.

Video of the training sesh was posted Monday ... showing Alexis in her sports gear, executing a picture-perfect backhand.

Keep in mind, she's only 4 years old!!

Waiting for your permission to load the Instagram Media.

"Practice makes progress," the caption read on the video posted to Alexis' Instagram (BTW, she has 631K followers) ... and fans went crazy in the comments over the resemblance to her 23-time Grand Slam winning mom, Serena.

Even her auntie, tennis star Venus Williams, was taken back by the impressive move -- saying, "It's Oracene [Price] all over again!".

FYI, Oracene is Serena and Venus's mother who coached them -- alongside their father Richard Williams -- when they were around Alexis' age.

Alexis seems to be a star in the making ... not only does she have her momma's move, she also has her fashion sense! She wore the same fit Serena had on at 2021's Australian Open.

Like mother, like daughter.

Yao Ming on Peng Shuai 'Had A Pleasant Chat' ... With Tennis Star

Ex-NBA superstar Yao Ming says he spoke with tennis star Peng Shuai last month ... the former Wimbledon doubles champ who vanished from public eye after accusing a powerful Chinese official of sexual assault.

“We had a pleasant chat,” Yao said Monday, as he fielded questions at a news conference to promote the Beijing Olympics which open in 18 days.

Ming -- the current president of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) -- said he's known Peng for about 20 years ... and the two attended a winter sports exhibition with other prominent Chinese sports figures.

"We asked many questions about the game as we were not familiar with snow sports," the ex-NBA star said.

Of course, Peng's disappearance raised international concern after a post on her verified Weibo social media account claimed a powerful government official sexually assaulted her.

36-year-old Peng has since denied making the claim ... telling a Singapore newspaper, "I have never said that I wrote that anyone sexually assaulted me."

Everyone from Naomi Osaka to Novak Djokovic expressed public concern for Peng ... whose recent public appearances haven't done much to quell concerns for her safety.

Speaking of Djokovic -- who was recently deported from Australia after losing his appeal -- Yao said it's unfortunate the Serbian tennis star won't be able to compete in the Australian Open.

Ming, however, added he isn't qualified to judge Australia's pandemic policies saying, "I'm not in a position to comment if he did right or wrong.”

Novak Djokovic Back In Serbia ... After Getting Boot From Australia

Stick a fork in it -- Novak Djokovic's Australian Open vaccine drama is officially over for now ... as the tennis superstar landed back in Serbia after getting deported from Down Under.

34-year-old ND touched down in Belgrade on Monday and was met by a small group of fans ... with one sneaking in a selfie with the controversial player.

As we previously reported, the 9-time champ fought like hell to be able to defend his title in 2022 ... but his vaccine status eventually led to his one-way ticket outta Australia.

Now, as Novak was set to take the court on Monday ... he's back home and will be forced to watch from the couch.

While his AO hopes have disappeared, Djokovic now has the French Open to worry about in May. French officials recently announced a new law requiring the jab in order to attend sports events would not have exceptions ... meaning Novak could run into the same issue again.

Rafael Nadal -- the current #5-ranked player -- pretty much spoke for everyone in an interview with CNN over the weekend ... saying he was "tired" of the situation surrounding Djokovic, calling it a "circus."

Novak Djokovic Deported from Australia ... After Losing Appeal

Novak Djokovic won't participate in the Australia Open after all ... he's finally been deported.

The tennis star got the boot Sunday after a 3-judge panel rejected his appeal to stay in the country after Aussie Immigration Minister Alex Hawke revoked his visa for a second time ... now under a "health and good order" rationale. He was scheduled to start playing Monday.

Djokovic left Australia on a plane to Dubai earlier in the day ... but it's unclear where his final destination lies. Serbia's Prime Minister called the decision "scandalous" ... and ND said he was disappointed as well.

One of Djokovic's arguments for being allowed to stay -- even though he's unvaccinated, which is a requirement for anyone traveling down under right now -- was that kicking him out would only fan anti-vaxx sentiments, antithetical to what the Aussie government wants.

The court wasn't buying that though ... and ruled against him. This, of course, comes after Djokovic was cut loose earlier last week when a judge found the government acted too hastily in revoking his visa/detaining him the first time ... but the government struck again under different reasoning the 2nd time -- citing public safety/interest.

Djokovic was given a medical exemption to begin with by two different tennis bodies, because he'd caught COVID in December -- but in the end, the Australian government overrode that ... pointing that, in and of itself, wasn't a loophole that could be allowed on their watch.

'Til next time!

Naomi Osaka Praises BF Cordae After New Album ... 'Proud of You'

Tennis superstar Naomi Osaka is gushing over her boyfriend Cordae's new album ... praising the rapper for all the hard work he put into it in a mushy message of support.

24-year-old Cordae's sophomore project, "From a Birds Eye View," officially dropped with an album release party featuring Dave Chappelle on Thursday ... and the #14 player in the world made sure to show love on his big day.

"Getting closer to someone and seeing how much love and dedication they put into their craft is truly inspiring," Osaka said on Instagram.

"Makes you feel like some people are born to do certain things, @cordae you're a star and a light, quite literally brighten up every room you walk in (or maybe it's your hair lol)."

"Congratulations on your 2nd album, proud of you ❤️"

NO and Cordae have been dating since early 2019 ... and the Maryland MC has made several appearances cheering on his girl at tournaments over the years.

As for Cordae's album, it's getting a lot of positive reviews already ... which is pretty much expected, as he's one of the most promising talents in the industry.

#CoupleGoals.

Novak Djokovic Australian Open Visa Canceled Again ... Star Facing Deportation

Novak Djokovic's participation in this year's Australian Open is in jeopardy once again ... officials have canceled his visa for a second time, and he's now facing deportation.

Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke made the ruling early Friday morning ... revoking the 34-year-old's visa just days after a judge had allowed the tennis star to go free in the country.

In announcing his decision, Hawke explained pulling Djokovic was in the best for "public interest" ... due to the athlete's COVID-19 vaccination status and controversial claims to a vaccine exemption.

"In making this decision, I carefully considered information provided to me by the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force and Mr. Djokovic," Hawke said.

"The Morrison Government is firmly committed to protecting Australia's borders, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic."

Djokovic has already started the process of an appeal -- and it's possible he could play in the opening round of the Australian Open on Monday while the arguments play out in court.

Australia's Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, meanwhile, backed Hawke's decision Friday ... writing in a statement, "Australians have made many sacrifices during this pandemic, and they rightly expect the result of those sacrifices to be protected."

"This is what the Minister is doing in taking this action today."

If ultimately deported, Djokovic could face a 3-year ban from the country.

Story developing ...

Novak Djokovic Knew He Was COVID Positive ... When He Posed for Photo Shoot

Novak Djokovic is navigating waters that have gone from warm to boiling, because the tennis star admitted he knew he had COVID when he posed for a photo shoot and chatted with a reporter from a French magazine.

Beyond that ... Djokovic attended multiple public events and posed for photos on December 16 and 17 -- in particular the 17th, when he handed out awards at a children's event -- but he says that shouldn't be held against him, because he got a negative rapid test on the 16th.

However, he also took a PCR test that same day that turned out to be positive. The Serbian government's records show that result came back at 8:19 PM on the same day -- but Novak insists he didn't get the info until the evening of the 17th.

So, the question is ... what did he know and when???

Whatever the case, he still did the photo shoot with L'Equipe magazine in Belgrade on the 18th when he knew he was positive.

He says, aside from the actual shoot, he was socially distanced from the reporter and photographer and masked. Djokovic now says he made a mistake and should have canceled.

He also acknowledges his visa application was incorrect ... he says his agent checked the wrong box, declaring Novak had not traveled internationally, which he very clearly did.

Djokovic, the number 1 seed in the Australian Open, was allowed into the country after the tournament granted him a medical exemption ... because he had just gotten over COVID and had antibodies, that apparently qualified.

What we don't know yet ... will officials from the Australian Open or the Australian government boot Djokovic for knowingly exposing people to the virus.

Howard Stern Novak Is A 'F***nut' For Vax Stance ... Get Him Out Of Tennis!!!

"THROW HIM OUT OF TENNIS!!!"
The Howard Stern Show/SiriusXM

Howard Stern is unloading on Novak Djokovic over his COVID-19 vaccine drama ... calling the tennis superstar a "d****bag," "f***ing a**hole," and a "f***nut" in a fiery rant.

34-year-old Djokovic has been fighting like hell to compete in the Australian Open this month despite the country's strict COVID-19 mandates -- he initially had his visa canceled after authorities claimed he did not meet requirements for a vaccine exemption ... before that decision was overturned on Monday.

Stern -- who's gone after sports stars like Kyrie Irving and Aaron Rodgers for their vax stances in the past -- sounded off on the Joker during Monday's episode of "The Howard Stern Show" ... saying Novak should be kicked out of the sport.

"The first I heard of this guy is he doesn't want to get the vaccine, he's running around ... they should throw him right the f*** out of tennis," Stern said.

"He's a d****bag."

But, what really set Howard off is Novak's claim that getting the jab is a private decision ... saying if that's the case, he shouldn't be out in the public and putting everyone else's health at risk.

Howard's co-host, Robin, points out Novak's view on the situation -- his people have claimed since he recently had COVID-19, he doesn't have to get vaccinated, but Stern says Novak can't be trusted.

"Well that's like saying smoking is a private decision," he added. "Well, that's true, but don't smoke in my face, f***nut. What a dummy. Just a big, dumb tennis player."

Djokovic -- the reigning AO champ -- is currently preparing to compete in the tournament next week ... although it's still unclear whether he'll actually be able to take the court ... as government officials could still boot him from the country.

As for his visa application, Novak claims his agent filled it out and made a mistake when claiming he did not travel prior to arriving in Australia. He also admits doing an interview and photoshoot while positive with the virus last month.

Novak Djokovic Hits Australian Practice Courts Hard ... Despite Visa Drama

Novak Djokovic is making sure he's ready for next week's Australian Open despite uncertainty he'll be allowed to remain in the country -- hitting practice courts hard Down Under on Tuesday.

The tennis superstar was spotted getting in a lengthy workout at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne ... hitting balls and sweating just six days away from the start of the big tournament.

Of course, Djokovic needs all the practice he can get ... considering he was cooped up in a hotel for nearly a week after Australian authorities tried to bar him from entering the country.

Djokovic and law enforcement feuded over his COVID-19 vaccination exemption status ... but after the 34-year-old won a key appeal on Monday, he was let into the country so he can gear up for The Open.

And, by the looks of things, Djokovic seems to be ready to defend his title. In the photos, Novak appears to be in good shape.

Djokovic is still not 100 percent certain about his status for the event ... Australian authorities are still exploring the possibility of canceling his visa a second time -- which could lead to a three-year ban from the country for the tennis player.

But, for now, Djokovic is freed ... and, clearly, he's moving forward with every intention of trying to win his fourth straight Australian Open trophy.

Novak Djokovic Set Free In Australia ... Wins Visa Appeal Case

Novak Djokovic has just been set free Down Under -- a judge ruled in his favor in his visa appeal case, clearing the way for the tennis star to compete in the Australian Open next week.

Djokovic had been in a quarantine hotel in Melbourne the last few nights ... after Australian government officials canceled his visa shortly after his arrival in the country last Wednesday.

Authorities argued Djokovic did not meet the proper requirements to be formally granted an exemption to Australia's strict COVID-19 vaccination rules.

Djokovic, though, argued he did meet all the criteria ... saying he had been infected with COVID last month and therefore did not need to be vaccinated.

At a visa appeal hearing in an Australian courtroom on Monday -- a judge overturned the government's decision, pointing out that the 34-year-old had received vaccine exemption status from Tennis Australia and two medical panels prior to his arrival.

"The point I’m somewhat agitated about is what more could this man have done?" the judge said in the courtroom.

The judge's decision now paves the way for Djokovic to compete in The Open, which begins on Jan. 17.

"I'm pleased and grateful that the Judge overturned my visa cancellation," Djokovic said in a statement on Twitter following the decision. "Despite all that has happened, I want to stay and try to compete @AustralianOpen."

"I remain focused on that. I flew here to play at one of the most important events we have in front of the amazing fans."

There could still be more hurdles for Djokovic to leap ... Australian authorities have suggested they could still cancel his visa once again.

If that does happen, and Djokovic is deported, he could be faced with a 3-year ban from the country.

It remains unclear what the likelihood of a second cancellation is.

Djokovic, meanwhile, has won the Australian Open for 3 straight years.

Naomi Osaka Withdraws From Tourney Semis Due To Ab Injury ... 'My Body Got A Shock'

Naomi Osaka announced she's pulling out of the semi-finals of an Australian Open warm-up tournament after she says her body went into "shock" from playing hard tennis ... after she took months off to focus on herself.

Now, the Australian Open -- already possibly without superstar Novak Djokovic -- could also be without one of women's tennis' biggest stars, Osaka.

Naomi, clearly bummed, announced she was withdrawing from the Melbourne Summer Set over an ab injury.

“I had a lot of fun playing here in Melbourne,” Osaka said in an official statement. “Unfortunately I have an abdominal injury which I need to rest and prepare for the Australian Open.”

Osaka expanded on the injury on social media, tweeting her body "got a shock from playing back to back intense matches after the break she took" ... forcing the former No.1 ranked women's tennis player to pull out at the last minute.

As we previously reported, Naomi returned to the tennis court in November ... after stepping away from the game to focus on herself following an emotional loss at the U.S. Open in September.

Osaka -- a four-time Grand Slam singles champion -- has been outspoken about her struggles with mental health in the past, infamously boycotting the media at the French Open.

And now, 24-year-old Osaka -- who was scheduled to play Veronika Kudermetova of Russia -- is sidelined once again ... as she tries to rehab her way back to competition.

Thankfully for tennis fans, barring something unforeseen, Osaka is expected to play in the Australian Open Tournament ... which begins January 17.

Novak Djokovic I Tested Positive For COVID In Dec. ... Should Be Allowed In Australia

Novak Djokovic's attorneys say Australian border officials screwed up when they denied the tennis star entry into the country ... claiming he had COVID-19 last month, meaning he didn't have to comply with the vaccine mandate.

Attorneys for the 34-year-old tennis superstar filed docs with an Australian court on Saturday, according to the NY Times, arguing officials went against the advice of their own immunization advisory group when they canceled Novak's visa, believing he received a bogus exemption allowing him to skirt Australia's strict vaccine mandate.

Djokovic's lawyers say Australian health officials previously suggested recent COVID infections could exempt travelers from needing the vaccine. Novak's lawyers say their client had COVID in mid-December ... and should've been granted entry.

In fact, the attorneys say border officials "radically and fundamentally" misapplied guidelines set forth by the immunization health officials.

FYI, it wasn't publicly known that Djokovic had COVID in December 2021. However, it was known he contracted the virus in June 2020.

Of course, the defending Australian Open champ had his visa canceled when he landed in Melbourne on Thursday. Novak opted to appeal the decision, so rather than instantly being deported, he was taken to a quarantine hotel run by government officials.

Novak's family says he's being held captive ... while Australian officials have insisted the #1 tennis player in the world can leave whenever he wants.

Even before Djokovic touched down in Melbourne, his impending arrival kicked off a raging debate in the country ... with many upset, believing the tennis star was going to get preferential treatment.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison even got involved ... vowing to investigate the medical exemption Djokovic received, in order to check its legitimacy.

Djokovic has a hearing on Monday ... where his fate will be determined. If the cancelation of the visa is upheld, Novak won't only have to worry about missing this year's tournament. He could be banned from entering Australia for several years.

The Australia Open doesn't start until January 17.

Tennis Pro Reilly Opelka 'A Bird S*** On Me!!!' ... During Match

A bird brought new meaning to "deuce" at a tennis competition in Australia this week ... by crapping all over Reilly Opelka during a match!!!

It all went down at the Melbourne Summer Set ... when a bird decided to do its business right on the (ironically enough) #2 seed's hat during the second set against Maxime Cressy.

Opelka -- the #26 player in the world -- was immediately ticked off by becoming a human toilet ... walking over to the chair umpire in hopes of switching out his hat.

"Sorry, I just got s*** on," Opelka told the umpire as his sweaty locks draped over his eyes. "I can't see, a bird s*** on me. What do you want me to do?"

What unfolded over the next few minutes was nothing short of a movie -- Opelka tried wearing a different hat, but was told the logo on it was too big.

Next, the judge suggested wearing his coach's hat -- but Opelka refused to wear a different brand.

Even a ball boy tried to come to the rescue -- offering his Australian Open lid to the player, but it wouldn't fit his head.

Eventually, a match official brought out a tournament-approved hat for him to wear and asked if he wanted it swapped with a different hat in his locker room ... which Opelka accepted.

Now usually, some say a bird crapping on you is believed to be good luck ... but that wasn't the case for Opelka on Wednesday -- he ended up losing the match.

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