Pilgrims have been coming to Switzerland’s Einsiedeln Abbey since shortly after St. Meinrad, the Martyr of Hospitality, retreated to the secluded “Dark Forest” in a valley between Lake Zurich and Lake Lucerne to establish a hermitage around 835.
I visited the abbey in October 2019 at the start of an unusual pilgrimage: to travel in the footsteps of the Swiss tennis player Roger Federer. As Switzerland’s best-known pilgrimage site, it seemed like an auspicious place to start my journey. I had no idea that Mr. Federer had a connection to the place, but when I contacted the abbey to arrange my visit, the monks had a surprise for me. “Did you know our abbot is also named Federer?” asked Marc Dosch, the abbey’s lay representative. I had not. “Yes and he baptized Roger’s children.”
Einsiedeln, with its twin-spired, Baroque-style church and horses and mooing cows dotting the lush, green hills, before being welcomed by Abbot Federer, who greeted me like an old friend. “You know, before Roger became famous, I always used to have to spell my name,” he told me. “But now everyone knows the name Federer.”
Djokovic doesn’t win any more titles. I don’t want him to catch Roger.”
Jakob Schmid Kaspar Wetli, where Jakob ages his Stegeler brand wine in giant oak barrels. After a vegetarian lunch, the village president, Bruno Seelos, stopped by for a chat. Mr. Seelos explained that the village planned to name something after Roger Federer, but they were waiting until he retired. Jakob and Antonia weren’t convinced this was necessary. “It’s like a cult of personality,” she said.
Roger Federer biography and my own research, I identified nearly a dozen tennis clubs around the country that I wanted to visit — many are clubs where Mr. Federer currently trains, others are places where he developed his game as a junior.
I found my opportunity that afternoon at Tennisclub Seeblick, a posh club of well-groomed red clay courts with stunning views over Lake Zurich where Mr. Federer is known to practice. I cornered Alan, a club member who was enjoying a post-tennis coffee in the club’s cafe, and convinced him to hit with me for a few minutes. I was rusty, spraying balls around the court with little idea of where they might land.
The next day, I made my way by train and bus to the venerable Hotel Schweizerhof, a century-old lodge with a Turkish-style hammam nestled in the picturesque village of Lenzerheide, deep in the Swiss Alps in the canton of Graubünden. Roger and his family moved to the neighboring village of Valbella in 2012, and I wanted to understand why he had chosen to live in this out-of-the-way place, instead of one of Switzerland’s more famous winter resorts like Zermatt, Gstaad or St. Moritz.
Tennisclub Felsberg, a club where Roger has trained on several occasions. Mr. Poltera drove us south on a snaking country road past villages perched on green hillsides below jagged peaks that would soon be full of snow toward the village of Lain.
As we got out to look at a remote playground where Mr. Poltera told me Roger Federer likes to take his family, it was easy to understand why he would want to live in such a place. “You see,” Mr. Poltera said, sweeping his right hand toward a snow-capped peak, “here Roger can have peace, he can play with his kids like a normal person.”
Turning north, we ventured into Valbella, a charming little community with a handful of businesses and Alpine-style homes perched across a hillside with views of Lake Heidsee and nearby mountains. I never asked Mr. Poltera to show me Mr. Federer’s house, but he pre-empted any potential request, explaining, “Roger lives here for privacy, that’s why we’re not going to drive by his home.”
Tennisclub Felsberg, a half-hour drive down a zigzagging road from Valbella, is an out-of-the-way place with three courts situated along the Rhine. “We’re playing on Roger’s court,” Mr. Poltera said, pointing to a sign above Court 1 labeled “Roger Platz.” He led me to a small dressing room with a humble shower and sink. “You’ll get dressed and take your shower here, just like Roger does.”
I muffed several of my first shots but quickly found a groove and fell into a blissful tennis trance.
St. Jakobshalle Arena, where Mr. Federer served as a ball boy as a kid.
In between matches, I explored Basel’s charming old town and visited a host of Federer sites, including Villa Wenkenhof, the stately, 17th-century English manor house where Mr. Federer and his wife, Mirka, were married in 2009; the Old Boys Tennis Club, where the tennis star honed his game as a child; and the “Swiss Tennis House” national training center in Biel, where I met Yves Allegro, who was Mr. Federer’s roommate when they trained at the facility in 1997.
Hotel Les Trois Rois overlooking the Rhine, where cheeseburgers at the bar go for $48, and as I walked across the chandelier-heavy lobby, I nearly bumped into one of Mr. Federer’s twin daughters, who were joyfully bounding down a grand staircase with the tennis player’s father, Robert, trailing.
On the morning of the final, I took the tram to Münchenstein, the Basel suburb where Roger spent most of his childhood. Daniel Altermatt, a Münchenstein city councilperson, greeted me on the platform wearing a beret and dark sunglasses. He took me on an extensive tour of the town, starting with the small housing development called Wasserhaus, where Mr. Federer grew up.
His block felt narrow, too cramped for a person of his stature. Around the corner, on a small street with a canopy of trees, Mr. Altermatt explained how someone had tried to unofficially rename the street Roger Federer Allée. “We have a local regulation prohibiting us from naming anything after anyone who is still alive,” he said. “So if we want to name something after Roger, we’d have to kill him first.”
Mr. Altermatt drove me to the arena, where I bumped into Marc Dosch, who was there for the final with Abbot Federer. “I lost the abbot,” he said, and I wondered if perhaps he was giving Mr. Federer a prematch blessing.
Alex de Minaur, a surprise finalist, to capture his record 10th Swiss Indoors title in what seemed like an anticlimactic final until Mr. Federer broke down in tears during his victory speech. He appeared in the pressroom carrying his trophy after the match, and this time he was still in his tennis gear. He had literally won the tournament without breaking a sweat.
I showed Mr. Federer a photo of him hoisting a trophy at age 10, that was given to me by Madeline Bärlocher, one of his first coaches at the Old Boys club, and asked him if the feeling of lifting trophies had changed over the years. “It’s similar,” he said, smiling. “It’s been an incredible journey, it definitely hit me hard being here in Basel. I don’t take these tournament victories as a normal thing, I take it as something quite unique and special even though it’s been a lot by now.”
And what, I asked, had triggered his tears on court. “When I stand there and look back at everything I had to go through, it really touches me,” he said. Mr. Federer said that he tends to break down depending “on the applause of the people, how warm it is, how much they feel that I’m struggling or not and how much love I get.”
As I waited for the tram, it started to rain and I remembered that I had my Roger Federer hat buried in my bag. I hadn’t worn it in more than a week, but now it was time to put my hat back on and return home — a tennis player once again.
LONDON — When Gregg finally stopped gambling in late 2018, he was in a dire financial position. He had lost nearly $15,000 during a nine-month betting binge, on top of two outstanding loans totaling more than $70,000 and a mortgage of more than $150,000 on his small home in Britain.
Now he is on a hunt to know whether his favorite gambling app, Sky Bet, knew about his problems and still tried to hook him.
Records show that Sky Bet had what amounted to a dossier of information about Gregg. The company, or one of the data providers it had hired to collect information about users, had access to banking records, mortgage details, location coordinates, and an intimate portrait of his habits wagering on slots and soccer matches.
After he stopped gambling, Sky Bet’s data-profiling software labeled him a customer to “win back.” He received emails like one promoting a chance to win more than $40,000 by playing slots, after marketing software flagged that he was likely to open them. A predictive model even estimated how much he would be worth if he started gambling again: about $1,500.
More than a dozen states, including New Jersey, Nevada and Virginia, now allow app-based gambling.
London lawyer behind the effort to obtain Gregg’s data. “When we start to look inside the vault, as we are here, then we see how vulnerabilities are laid out to the platforms.”
report published last year said 60 percent of the gambling industry’s profits came from the 5 percent of customers who were “problem gamblers,” or at risk of becoming so.
“We’re trying to get transparency,” Mr. Naik said. “It shouldn’t take this much work from lawyers to figure out what’s going on.”
Sky Bet was the most popular gambling app in Britain last year, downloaded roughly 140,000 times per month, according to the market research firm Apptopia. Once controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s British media company, Sky, it is now owned by Flutter Entertainment, which owns a number of casino apps and generated about $7.4 billion in revenue last year.
chat service for sports fans. “If you use that data in a way that you know, or should know, is harmful to your users, then that’s a serious problem.”
Mr. Naik, who previously helped uncover data misuse by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, was contacted last year by Gregg, who was seeking help getting copies of data from Sky Bet and companies it used to profile users.
The data that he and Mr. Naik obtained included a 34-page breakdown of his financial history from a company called CallCredit, which conducts fraud and identify checks for Sky Bet. It contained information about his bank accounts, debts and mortgage, with details down to monthly payments. In bold was a loan default in March 2019.
Another company used by Sky Bet, Iovation, provided a spreadsheet with nearly 19,000 fields of data, including identification numbers for devices that Gregg used to make deposits to his gambling account and network information about where they were made from.
totaled $7.3 billion, nearly double the next-largest market, Japan, according to Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, an industry research group. This week, four of the top five free sports apps on Apple’s App Store in Britain are gambling related. The companies own and sponsor soccer teams and dominate advertising during televised sporting events.
The country is at the center of the global debate about regulating the new generation of betting apps. The government has opened a review of gambling laws that will include the consideration of new rules for data use and affordability checks, according to the agency conducting the review.
Lawmakers should pass new regulations that allow companies to use data to spot problem gamblers but limit how it can be used for marketing and other sales objectives, said James Noyes, a senior fellow at the Social Market Foundation, a London think tank.
“They detect your pattern of play, your likes, dislikes, spending tendencies and exposure to risk,” Mr. Noyes said. “It’s taking information about you and turning it right back on you.”
Tech is always changing, and so is the way we use it. That means we are always finding new ways to let our guard down for bad actors to snoop on our data.
Remember when you shared your address book with that trendy new app? Or when you posted photos on social networks? Those actions may all pose consequences that weaken security for ourselves and the people we care about.
Vijay Balasubramaniyan, the chief executive of Pindrop, a security firm that develops technology to detect fraudulent phone calls, said we should always remember that any piece of our identity we post online could eventually be used by fraudsters to hijack our online accounts.
“Your digital identity, which comprises all your pictures, videos and audio, is going to fundamentally allow hackers to create a complete persona of you that looks exactly like you, without you being in the picture,” he said.
password manager, software that helps automatically generate long, complex passwords for accounts. All the passwords are stored in a vault that is accessible with one master password. My favorite tool is 1Password, which costs $36 a year, but there are also free password managers like Bitwarden.
The other option is to jot down passwords on a piece of paper that is stored in a safe place. Just make sure the passwords are long and complex, with some letters, numbers and special characters.
offer methods of two-step verification involving text messages or so-called authenticator apps that generate temporary codes. Just do a web search for the setup instructions.
If a company doesn’t offer multifactor authentication, you should probably find a different product, Mr. Balasubramaniyan said.
“If a vendor says, ‘All I’m doing is passwords,’ they’re not good enough,” he said.
Thou Shalt Not Overshare
Many of us rely on our smartphones for our everyday cameras. But our smartphones collect lots of data about us, and camera software can automatically make a note of our location when we snap a photo. This is more often a potential safety risk than a benefit.
Let’s start with the positives. When you allow your camera to tag your location, photo-management apps like Apple’s Photos and Google Photos can automatically sort pictures into albums based on location. That’s helpful when you go on vacation and want to remember where you were when you took a snapshot.
But when you aren’t traveling, having your location tagged on photos is not great. Let’s say you just connected with someone on a dating app and texted a photo of your dog. If you had the location feature turned on when you snapped the photo, that person could analyze the data to see where you live.
aggressive collection of address books.
When signing up for Clubhouse, users could decline to share their address book. But even if they did so, others on the app who had uploaded their address books could see that those new users had joined the service. This wasn’t ideal for people trying to avoid contact with abusive exes or stalkers.
said last week that it had opened an investigation into Clubhouse.
Clubhouse updated the app this month, addressing some of the privacy concerns. It did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
There are kinder ways than sharing your address book to find out whether your friends are using a new service — like asking them directly.
Remember to Stay Skeptical
All security experts agreed on one rule of thumb: Trust no one.
When you receive an email from someone asking for your personal information, don’t click on any links and contact the sender to ask if the message is legitimate. Fraudsters can easily embed emails with malware and impersonate your bank, said Adam Kujawa, a director of the security firm Malwarebytes.
When in doubt, opt out of sharing data. Businesses and banks have experimented with fraud-detection technologies that listen to your voice to verify your identity. At some point, you may even interact with customer service representatives on video calls. The most sophisticated fraudsters could eventually use the media you post online to create a deepfake, or a computer-generated video or audio clip impersonating you, Mr. Balasubramaniyan said.
While this could sound alarmist because deepfakes are not an immediate concern, a healthy dose of skepticism will help us survive the future.
“Think about all the different ways in which you’re leaving biometric identity in your online world,” he said.