Osaka is ranked high enough to have made the main draw automatically, though has most likely delayed her entrance due to the uncertainty surrounding the event due to the Coronavirus pandemic. World number 37 Sloane Stephens has also made the decision to take a wildcard into the tournament; she too was most likely waiting to see how proceedings panned out.
In contrast, world number 67 Williams is not ranked high enough to have made the main draw automatically. She has taken a wildcard into the event ahead of the US Open, which she previously confirmed she was aiming to play at. Joining her will be Kim Clijsters. The Belgian returned to the WTA Tour earlier this season, though only managed to play two events before the tour was suspended due to the pandemic.
A fifth wildcard berth was handed to rising American star Caty McNally. Considered one of the best prospects in American tennis, McNally made her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon last summer and went on to win matches at the both the US and Australian Opens. She has also won two doubles titles on the WTA Tour.
The Western and Southern Open will certainly have a different feel this year due to Coronavirus. Not only will the event play behind closed doors, it will also be held at Flushing Meadows due to the USTA’s plan to create a three week bubble combining this event and the US Open which will be held the following week. Osaka, Williams, Stephens, and Clijsters are all former champions in New York.