Trio of former world No 1s go straight into Australian Open draw with special rankings and wildcard

Iga Swiatek and Naomi Osaka at the net

Former World No 1s Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki were among the players confirmed to be entered into the Australian Open with the use of a Special Ranking and a wildcard.

The 2024 Australian Open entry list and first set of wildcards were announced this week, with former champions Osaka, Kerber and Wozniacki all continuing their comebacks from maternity leave or semi-retirement.

Both 2019 champion Osaka and 2016 champion Kerber entered via special rankings of No 46 and No 31, respectively. Osaka, who will make her return in Brisbane, gave birth to baby Shai in July, while Kerber, who will compete in the United Cup, gave birth to daughter Liana in February.

The Former WTA Rankings queens are two of seven players who have been granted direct entry into the first Grand Slam main draw of 2024 with a Special Ranking. Jennifer Brady, Ajla Tomljanovic, Shelby Rogers, Amanda Anisimova, and Caty McNally are the other five.

Four of the eight wild cards have also been released, with 2018 winner Wozniacki leading the way. After only three events played in her long-awaited comeback, the Dane who launched her return in August and reached the fourth round of the US Open moving to No 242 in the world in the process convinced organisers to grant her a wildcard. Kimberly Birrell, Olivia Gadecki, and Taylah Preston are the recipients of three more wild cards.

The main draw will feature six past Australian Open champions. In addition to Osaka, Kerber, and Wozniacki, the lineup will include 2020 champion Sofia Kenin, 2012-13 champion Victoria Azarenka, and reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka. World No 1 Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff, Elena Rybakina, Marketa Vondrousova, Barbora Krejcikova, Jelena Ostapenko, Petra Kvitova, and Sloane Stephens are all on the entry list.

Claire Liu, ranked No 99 on the WTA Rankings, receives the final straight entry into the main draw. Belinda Bencic, who is pregnant, and Bianca Andreescu, who has been out of action since August due to a back injury, are the only players in the Top 99 who are not on the entry list as of 9 December 2023.

Aleksandra Krunic, Kamilla Rakhimova, Wang Yafan, Julia Grabher, Tamara Zidansek, Emma Raducanu, Sara Errani, Kaja Juvan, Dayana Yastremska, Hsieh Su-Wei, Katie Volynets, and Marina Bassols Ribera are the next 12 alternatives in case of withdrawals.

Krunic, Raducanu, and Hsieh have all qualified with Special Rankings of No 99, No 103, and No 106.

READ MORE: Iga Swiatek makes Aryna Sabalenka admission after their intense battle for year-end No 1 ranking