If the empty set and the whole space are not open, then many statements you would like to make about open sets need qualifying remarks. It really can happen that two open sets are disjoint (two open balls that are far apart) or their union is the whole space (an appropriate pair of open half-planes that overlap). If the empty set were not open then we would have to say that any finite intersection of open sets is open or is empty. You'd have to tack on "or empty" in a lot of statements (e.g., the complement of a closed set is open or is empty... I assume you would like to call the whole space closed?). It is easier to allow the empty set as an open set to avoid a profusion of "or empty" qualifiers in theorems.
If, as has been suggested in a comment, the issue being raised is whether or not that first axiom about topologies is simply redundant, it isn't. Without that axiom we could consider any single subset of a space as a topology on the space: that one set is closed under arbitrary unions and finite intersections of itself. In that setting the concept of an open cover loses its meaning, so it really seems like a dead end.
Edit: Without the whole space being allowed as open (which can happen for "topologies" without that first axiom), there need not be open coverings, and then the usefulness of point-set topology is seriously damaged.