Roger Federer

The Best Books on Roger Federer

A quick glance at the best Federer books to keep you going through lockdown.

Tennis seems absent at the moment – it should be happening, but it’s nowhere to be seen. Courts around the world, including in the UK, have been closed. The Australian Open feels like a long way off having been delayed into February. And Federer himself, it is rumoured, will not make a return to the professional circuit until March.

In these times when Federer isn’t playing or when tennis is an all but distant possibility, books are a superb way to delve into Federer’s story and connect with tennis again. Here are, in my opinion, the top five books on the great man.

Federesque (Beyond the Lens, 2018)

Federesque

Writer Mark Hodgkinson collaborates with the photographer Antoine Couvercelle to produce Federesque – the first coffee table book on Federer. Full-page images and brief brushstrokes of text make it ideal for dipping in and out of.

A true enthusiast’s book, the writing, and pictures are divided into themes that Federer fans will recognise – emotion, artistry, humility, immortality, elegance, and perfection. With this different approach to looking at his career, Federesque invokes interest and admiration without getting lost in too much detail.

The Circuit – A Tennis Odyssey (Picador, 2018)

The Circuit Book

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Rowan Ricardo Phillips creates an interesting tennis book in its own right, exploring “one of the most remarkable years” of the professional tour – 2017. Not strictly a Federer book but with a clear emphasis on him, the text follows the men’s and women’s circuits around the world.

Phillips examines Federer through the lens of each tournament; how he dealt with the press, his performances on the court, right down to the finer points on what he was wearing. The book also provides the opportunity to revisit more recent key moments – like the 2017 Australian Open final versus Nadal, and Federer’s Sunshine Double victories.

Federer – The Greatest of All Time (John Blake Publishing, 2021)

Federer Greatest Of All Time

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Chris Bowers returns with the regularly updated biography of Federer, the latest edition to be published in May which includes the 2018 Australian Open. This is the book for fans who want to know everything about Federer, from his early childhood growing up in Switzerland, to achieving his twentieth grand slam.

Greatest of All Time effectively blends Federer’s public and private life to make a wide-ranging and comprehensive assessment of Federer’s career. Readers who are keen for detail will find the book useful as Bowers draws upon his own conversations with Federer and those around him, providing both depth of insight and trivia. Perhaps the definitive biography on Roger.

Fedegraphica – A Graphic Biography of the Genius of Roger Federer (Aurum Press, 2019)

Fedegraphica

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Fedegraphica by Mark Hodgkinson tells the professional story, but the main highlights are the beautifully designed infographics that accompany the text. Addictive and tempting to read cover-to-cover, the visual representation of Federer statistics and numbers bring the nuances of his game to life.

Players of tennis will appreciate this technically-minded book. They can reflect on their own game with infographics on categories such as Federer’s forehand spin rates, percentage of shots won at the net and average kilometres run per match. Included are comparisons with how other key players have fared in the same measure.

Federer’s pre-eminence in so many statistics helps us understand why he is the GOAT and offers a numerical celebration of his success.

Federer and Me – A Story of Obsession (Yellow Jersey Press, 2016)

Federer And Me

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In a frank account, William Skidelsky tells the story of the relationship he has with himself and with his love of Federer. From his fanship emerging after watching the 2006 World Tour Finals in Shanghai, Skidelsky describes how his obsession grew over the coming years while tennis became a refuge in times of emotional upheaval and private struggle.

Federer acts as a constant source of personal stability, as Skidelsky religiously follows his matches and visits the 2014 Gerry Weber Open in Halle. There, he even gets to meet Federer himself. The book darts between Federer’s matches, tennis history, racquet technology, the rivalry with Nadal and cultural theory to explain why Federer is of such significance worldwide.

Which Federer book have you enjoyed reading the most? Let me know in the comments.

Alex Nulliah

My name is Alex Nulliah and I am a freelance writer from Bath. I enjoy writing about tennis, International Relations and anything else which takes my interest. At Exeter University I took a BA in History and an MA in Applied Security Strategy. I love playing tennis.

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19 Comments

  1. Cheers for writing Alex.

    I have only read one of these, the Skidelsky book 😲

    I would put the Simon Graf one on the list too: https://www.perfect-tennis.com/roger-federer-phenomenon-enthusiast-philanthropist/

    It is a biography and Graf has pretty good access to Federer personally. I think it has recently been updated.

    Another commenter, FrenchbutteRFly also told me about a new book coming this spring called Footsteps of Federer which is an account of the authors travels across seven Swiss cantons in search of insights into Federer’s character.

  2. I meant “first” but my device corrected with “fiesta” ! … Ha ha. Subliminal hopes of fiestas after the lockdown … and watching Roger play is a fiesta 😉

  3. Federer – The Greatest of All Time —John Blake . This is an excellent account of Roger’s background, early career , coaches and the story as it unfolds . A must for any RF fan ! Always thought it must be updated and sure enough here it is . Great !

  4. Nice read! Thks
    I hv the Federesque book which is very beautiful to look at, and a great present to give.
    Skidelsky book resonates a lot.I was lucky enough to attend the launch, and met him a few times at SW19. Nice guy with a very interesting back story which he links brilliantly into the book. Very prominent father ( Google him)

    Don’t think you can leave out the original bio by Rene Stauffer “ Quest for perfection” ( the updated version comes out in April this year)
    Lastly I also read Chris Jackson’s book “Portrait of a genius” which looks at Federer from a historical, philosophical and aesthetic point of view. Interesting read.

    1. Susie, the Stauffer bio is a completely new one, not an update. And the English translation is due – possibly overdue – by now. I must find out what’s happening in that respect, because I haven’t heard anything in months.

      1. Didn’t need to check: I found it on pre-order somewhere – publication date April 1st, apparently. I shall be interested to see how it’s turned out, but maybe I should read the German version before then.

  5. Thanks Alex for your interesting tour of books on Roger. Personally I have only read Skidelky’s which I really liked especially enjoyed his honest writing. Will try to get the Rowan Ricardo Phillips one and Federesque, great title.

  6. Thank you, Alex, for this very informative post. Once lockdown is at an end and the libraries are open again, I shall be trekking to Wimbledon to see if I can borrow any of these – there were several I was totally unaware of.

  7. Thanks Alex ! Great post…

    If you read French (sorry), I advise you to read two books that I read and liked.

    – The first one is wriiten by Arnaud Caël, a French journalist. It is called : “Jusqu’au bout de la nuit”. It is a very short book mixing the highlights of his life with those of RF’s great matches – leading him to be awake in the middle of the night  to watch tennis. Beautifully written.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/LBCRYazj1SKQ51WS8

    – The second one is written by Laurent Chiambretto.  It is called : “Rodgeur Forever”. A very funny novel about a Fedfan. The character tells  the way he lived 2017-18 with all the emotions the Swiss Maestro gave him (and they were numerous, no ?) and what he did to try and meet him.

    https://www.amazon.fr/dp/2263161627/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_2R937X7HXFPH36VFJ7K

    At last, I advise a very nice coffee table photo album : “Federer forever”.  It is composed of images taken by Corinne Dubreuil, a famous photo-journalist  who attended to 19 of his 20 Grand Slams with her comments. 

    Have a look at her Instagram page or website. She is an artist.

    https://www.amazon.fr/dp/2828917274/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_08DNEDDZSFCEZWR2K6P6

    Stay safe, everybody !
    ButteRFly… writing a few days before our 3rd lockdown… time to read ahead of us…
    But today, 4 years ago (Jan. 29, 2017) it was Grand Slam number18… Nice memories.

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