Everybody knows Roger Federer, and there are two opinions about him. One is from the Swiss, and the other from the non-Swiss, including ex-pats living in Switzerland.
Federer is a global icon, Switzerland's first, if one may say, and therein lies a beautiful story. Switzerland has a long tradition of not worshipping its heroes, especially when they are alive. (Granted, Federer did get a stamp named after him in 2007.)
So, why should Roger Federer be any different? Privacy is perhaps the number-one reason why Federer lives in Switzerland and is content about it. It is hard for a non-Swiss to fathom that celebrities are not being surrounded by fans every step they make. Especially so if you are from a sporty nation such as the US.
About the Swiss and the idol that lives among them
In his latest book, Footsteps of Federer, author Dave Seminara sets the tone from the get-go. Having played the game and now following the global circuit, Seminara has a penchant for tennis.
It goes without saying the author is a Roger Federer fan, maybe one of the ardent ones otherwise. How else could someone convince the publishers and sponsors to be sent on an expedition tracing the history of the Federers and Roger's own tennis journey?
This book articulates the Florida-based author’s experiences in Switzerland and his surprises along the way. My biggest takeaway is this: "Why do the Swiss not make a bigger fuss about Roger Federer?"
The theme is consistent across Seminara's many interviews. It leaves one (outside of Switzerland) to ponder, why is such an international, once-in-a-lifetime player treated like a mere mortal?
Footsteps of Federer is not just another book on tennis, or on Roger Federer.
Instead, it is much rather a book about the intricacies of how Swiss people go about their daily lives. It is a snapshot of what Swissness is about, and it provides insights into how Switzerland operates as a country - with Federer as the focal point.
Along the way, you will pick up some cool factoids about Roger Federer, his family tree, and his tennis journey. The author explains why, despite coming out of Switzerland, Federer’s tennis achievements remain an exception rather than the norm.
And readers will learn that the Swiss do celebrate Roger's successes, that they are happy for his achievements, and take great pride in the fact that he lives in Switzerland. Yet, the Swiss remain detached from their idol’s private life.
Why is that, and how is it possible? This new publication maps out Federer's incredible journey from modest childhood to being one of the world's most recognizable humans alive.
Here are some impressions from the author's journey in the literal “footsteps of Federer.”
Roger Federer spent his childhood in the modest Wasserhaus neighborhood in Münchenstein just outside of Basel:
Until recently, Federer called this mansion in Wollerau his residence:
During the 2019 writing of his book, author Dave Seminara updates us about the tennis king’s latest real estate ventures: “Federer had recently purchased an eighteen-thousand-square-meter plot of land to build (yet another) dream home on Lake Zürich, just outside Rapperswil town limits, for a reported $40–$50 million.”
From tennis courts touched by Federer to portraits of people who share the same last name (or squares named after him), Seminara is truly taking us on a journey.
Meet Jakob Federer, one of only a few dozen Swiss who share the same last name:
In the chapter entitled “You Will Shower in the Same Place Roger Showered,” the author tours the tennis club at TC Felsberg where Federer “has prepared for clay-court season several times.”
The author’s smile on this photograph about sums it!
And finally, one more fun fact to leave you off: did you know that Roger Federer has baptized his own children at the Einsiedeln Abbey where even the Abbot is a Federer? To find out whether this was a coincidence, I can highly recommend you pick up a copy of "Footsteps of Federer."
Footsteps of Federer: A Fan’s Pilgrimage Across 7 Swiss Cantons in 10 Acts
Dave Seminara; 144 pages; Release date: March 2, 2021; ISBN: 9781642938562