(Photo: DAMIEN MEYER)

As Roger Federer eases into the quarter-finals at this year's Wimbledon Championship, no-one will be prouder than Lynette Federer, Roger's mother. It was she who first spotted that her son was a natural sports player and it was also Lynette who spent many hours with the young Roger hitting tennis balls to him or kicking aorund with a football. But, if Roger had followed in his mother's footsteps, then he might be gracing the playing surface of a very different game.

While some of Roger's genes come from his football-mad father, his mother was also an exceptionally talented all-round athlete, and her passion was… hockey. 

Lynette was brought up in South Africa, in a suburb of Johannesberg and, as a child and teenager, she was to be found excelling on the hockey pitches at Kempton Park. She also played regional hockey and was, in her own words "nearly always among the top three athletes". 

"I had athletic talent, a competitive spirit, a healthy dose of ambition and strength of mind," says Lynette. "In South Africa, you simply grow up with sports." Hockey took a back seat when Lynette met her footballing husband to be. They discovered they had one sport in common – tennis – and soon they were regulars at the Swiss Club in Johannesburg. A few years later, following a move to Switzerland and giving birth to two children, Lynette was still to be found demonstrating her competitiveness as she played uncompromising tennis matches against her son. "I never let him win," she says. That approach doesn't seem to have damaged her son's prowess as a tennis player and you get the feeling that hockey's loss was tennis' gain.