Tennis Now

New Book Offers Entertaining Road to Roger Federer

New Book Offers Entertaining Road to Roger Federer

By Richard Pagliaro

Retracing Roger Federer's roots is an entertaining—and revitalizing—road trip for mad global traveler and massive Fed fanatic Dave Seminara.

The former diplomat and author laced up his Nikes and traveled to Federer's favorite hangout and haunts in his native Switzerland to reconnect with the game after battling a debilitating illness.

Nadal: It's Play Time

The result is the new book Footsteps of Federer: A Fan’s Pilgrimage Across 7 Swiss Cantons in 10 Acts.

Footsteps of Federer is a wry, novella-length account of Seminara’s travels across seven Swiss cantons in search of insights into Federer’s character, which are linked to his deep roots in his home country.

Seminara said he timed his unique pilgrimage to the 2019 Swiss Indoors, where he asked the Swiss Maestro a number of offbeat questions before and after Federer hoisted his record tenth title there. Seminara’s Federer pilgrimage took him to Switzerland’s most important abbey, where he prayed with Abbot Urban Federer; to the vineyard of Jakob Federer from Berneck, where the Federer clan originated from; to the stunning villa where Roger and Mirka were married; and to many of the neighborhoods and tennis clubs where Roger has lived and trained at over the years.

"My book is a kind of Federer travelogue," Seminara said. "I take readers to the block where Roger grew up, to his favorite place of worship, to the neighborhoods where he owns homes, to the spectacular villa where he and Mirka were married, to the tennis clubs where he learned the game and the ones he practices on now, among many other places.

"Also, it’s a lighthearted, fun book, where I tackle offbeat topics, like Mirka’s beautiful teeth, the origins of the Federer clan, the posh hotel where players stay at the Swiss Indoors tournament in Basel, and one of Roger’s petty neighbors, who sued him after he erected a playground for his children.


A post shared by Dave Seminara (@seminarad)

Fun Federer fact: the 20-time Grand Slam king not only calls the shots on court, he frequently calls the local club to book court-time himself.

Author Seminara, who has written for The New York Times and, said his journey to the heart of Federer's homeland was inspired from his recovery from an auto-immune disease.

"An auto-immune disease prevented me from playing tennis for years," Seminara said. "Once my condition improved, I started to dream about playing tennis again—but not in an ordinary place. As a reward for all the suffering I endured, I wanted to treat myself.

"And so, I hatched a plan to make my comeback on hallowed ground: courts where Roger Federer has played. I reckoned that by following in Roger’s footsteps to the places that have mattered most to him, I’d gain new perspectives on my favorite athlete."


A post shared by Dave Seminara (@seminarad)

So what are some of the revelations Seminara gleaned retracing Roger's footsteps?

Well, you'll need to read the book to find out. The author and former diplomat does learn from the locals Federer has stayed true to his understated roots and humility and the local tennis club remains a favorite Fed hangout spot. 

"So many things. I found out that he often calls tennis clubs in Switzerland himself to book court time, and never tells them to clear all the courts for him," Seminara said. "When he finishes play, he drags the clay courts just like any other players. He pays for his own coffees everywhere, or at least tries to.

"And he sometimes hangs out at the tennis clubs for lunch after practice. I was surprised to discover that he once purchased a home but then sold it when local authorities wouldn’t let him build a tennis court. What surprised me most was that the Swiss have a very low-key approach to fandom. Roger is mostly left alone in Switzerland."

And when it comes to reconnecting to his own game, Seminara took away a profound lesson from his road trip to Swiss bliss: "Hit it to their backhand." 

Design by Tennis Now Team