Self-defined "mad traveler" and former diplomat Dave Seminara had a predicament. Or three.

Health woes including a surgery and coping with a pair of autoimmune diseases had robbed him of precious time on his beloved tennis courts. Even so, the experiences did profit him an embarrassment of downtime, during which he wrote about his favorite player, Roger Federer, for The New York Times and published other writings, on and off the topic of tennis.

Cue 2020 and a pandemic, and that became all-caps DOWNTIME—for Seminara, and for the majority of the globe's inhabitants, its mad travelers. In 2020, people were just plainly mad.

Doing what many merely aspired to do, Seminara utilized the pandemic's empty calendar. He delivered a polished final book to his publishers at Post Hill Press: Footsteps of Federer, an essay-styled travelogue about quite literally trekking across Switzerland to places formative to the GOAT's development as a person and professional.

"I wanted to take this trip in October 2019 because I felt like I deserved a treat after two years of suffering with health problems," Seminara tells Baseline, "and because I was ready to return to the courts in a special place."

"Of course, I'm also acutely aware that Roger's days are sadly numbered, so if you want to see him play live, you can't procrastinate. Little did I know then that having the freedom to cross borders, sit in a packed arena, and watch a healthy Roger play were luxuries we took for granted but shouldn't have."

Seminara shares one of his many splendid mini-stories in a recent Instagram post:


As Seminara posited in a media release framing his Fed-fan book, "When I traveled to Switzerland for a 10-day Federer pilgrimage in October 2019, the plan was just to write an article for The New York Times Travel section. Just a few days into my trip, I already had so much great material that I knew I wanted to publish a book about my offbeat travels in Roger's footsteps. I learned a lot about Roger, Swiss culture and also my capability to play tennis again after years away from the sport due to illnesses and injuries."

The world would all but stop a few months later.

"Little did I know that it would be the last international trip I’d be taking for a long time," Seminara said in the release. "When I sat in a packed arena for the Swiss Indoors in Basel, there was no way to know that it could be years before I’ll have such an experience again. No one could have predicted that a plague was coming. And who the hell knew that Roger would play just two more tournaments between then and now?"

Notably, Seminara also penned a forever-famous story for the Times brilliantly titled, "The Day They Belabored the Point," in which he tracked down the players, Vicki Nelson and Jean Hepner, responsible for perpetrating upon humanity a 643-shot rally in a single sanctioned-match point.

Released on March 2, Footsteps of Federer: A Fan's Pilgrimage Across 7 Swiss Cantons in 10 Acts comes in print, digital, and audiobook editions in a range of countries. (Switzerland has 26 cantons, or member states, in its confederation.)


Those taken by the author's style can check out his blog—and his other tomes, including Bed, Breakfast & Drunken Threats: Dispatches from the Margins of Europe and Breakfast with Polygamists: Dispatches from the Margins of The Americas. Both bear titles that just scream, "Story time!"

For now, though, Seminara's story of choice is all things Federer. Look for the 20-time major singles champ to return to pro tennis next week—in Doha, Qatar, where he has not appeared since 2012. Federer will face off against a foe, either Jeremy Chardy or Dan Evans, who will be ready to make a statement. Achtung, baby.