It used to take 45 days on a ship to get to Australia from Europe.
For that reason, in the early days, the Australian Championships were not well-attended by players outside of Australia and, at times, or even by their own players.
But as the world grew smaller, the importance of this colorful slam down under grew until now it ranks up there with the other three, receiving the attention from the players and the media the Australian Open so richly deserves.
This year as the 2011 Australian Open gets underway, the world is focused on many fascinating tennis stories.
For example, the women will be looking to crown a new champion with the absence of last year’s winner and former World No. 1 Serena Williams.
On the men’s side, the questions center on whether Rafael Nadal will be able to complete his “Rafa Slam," winning the Australian Open––owning all four major titles at one time.
No one has accomplished that since Aussie Rod Laver completed his own grand slam in 1969.
There is also much speculation wondering if Roger Federer, who is the defending champion, can win career grand slam title No. 17.
It would also give Federer five Australian Open Championships, which has not happened in the Open Era of men’s tennis.
Such a win would surely boost Federer higher on the list of the 20 all-time greatest Australian Open Champions.