Kim Clijsters leads the list of wild cards for the US Open women’s singles, as announced by the USTA Thursday.
Clijsters, 38, is back for round three of her career – and her return has definitely been slowed down – both by the coronavirus shutdown as well as some injuries.
She played the World Team Tennis season last month and impressed in the shortened format against a lot of very good players. But she was sidelined by the end because of an abdominal injury.
Clijsters won the US Open in her first career in 2005. She came back after having daughter Jada and won it in back-to-back years in 2009 and 2010.
The lucky eight
In addition to Clijsters, 21-year-old Cici Bellis also has received a wild card. She could have entered with her protected ranking of No. 43. But it would have been her second Grand Slam (the maximum), so the free pass ensures she can enter the French Open with it. Her current real ranking is No. 304 after she reached the third round of the Australian Open in January.
Usue Arconada, 21, is ranked No. 138 and is a former highly-ranked junior. She won two $25K and a $60K event on the ITF circuit in 2019.
Francesca Di Lorenzo, 23, is a pro via two All-American years at Ohio State. She’s ranked No. 128 and is coached by former top-50 player Ann Grossman.
Caroline Dolehide, 21, is at No. 134 and reached the doubles semifinals at the US Open in 2019.
Ann Li, 20, is at No. 131 and reached the Wimbledon girls’ singles final a few years ago. She qualified and won a round in the main draw at the Australian Open.
Whitney Osuigwe, still only 18, is currently at No. 143 after a standout junior career in which she won the 2017 junior French Open.
The youngest of them all is 15-year-old Robin Montgomery – ranked No. 600 on the WTA Tour but No. 5 in the juniors. Just before the coronavirus shotdown, she won her first pro title at a $25K ITF event in Las Vegas.
More names left out
The addition of Montgomery, a hope for the future, and the solid done to Bellis does leave some players out of the mix. But it’s also likely that at least Di Lorenzo (who is next in on the first withdrawal) and Li may well get in on their own.
From what we hear, Nicole Gibbs has been focused on full-time studies since the shutdown, to complete her Stanford degree.
But Sachia Vickery, Allie Kiick and even Coco Vandeweghe (who you would think will get into the women’s doubles and mixed) are left on the shelf.
If the withdrawals go as expected, some of them might end up happy.
Beyond the opportunity to play in the US Open, it’s also a serious chunk of change (even to lose in the first round) that will help them kickstart their careers again.
Also notable is the the traditional “reciprocal” wild cards set out for the French and Australian tennis federations are not a thing this year.