Asteroid Sleuth: The Case of the Tennis Tantrum
On September 8th the final round of the Women’s Singles match at the 2018 US Open tennis tournament was disrupted in more ways than one. Naomi Osaka, a 20-year-old player of Haitian and Japanese descent, became the first Asian to win the title. Not only that, but she defeated Serena Williams, one of the sport’s all-time best players, with 23 Grand Slam championship titles already under her belt.
And not only that, but Ms. Williams had displayed an astonishing amount of unsportsmanlike behaviors in the match, from yelling at the chair umpire to smashing her racket. The 36-year-old Williams’ affronts were so egregious, she was penalized one game, and may be fined $17,000. Williams played far from her best, as she unraveled in a combative second set that sadly may be remembered more than Osaka’s groundbreaking win. Williams was given one code violation for coaching in the first game of the second set and another for smashing her racquet after double-faulting on consecutive points in the second game.
Williams denied the coaching charge and told chair umpire Carlos Ramos in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t cheat to win, claiming he was attacking her character. Williams called Ramos a “thief” and said he had stolen a point from her, referring to the fact that a second code violation is an automatic one-point penalty. The capacity crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens NY booed the result loudly, bringing the winner to tears after the match, though Osaka outmatched Williams and would likely have won the set regardless of penalties imposed on the senior player.
You might think such random, seemingly unimportant incidents wouldn’t be reflected in the skies, but you’d be wrong. Stunning connections for the day and in the birth charts of both players reveal an almost inevitable contretemps brewing, a fated fracas which frothed over at a venue which also appears predestined.
First let’s look at the day itself. September 8, 2018 seems primed for just such an event, with Venus and Mars squared in the sky from 29 Libra to 29 Capricorn. The 29th is known as the “critical degree”, the last of the Sign, and any time a planet is about to change Signs, its tension increases, putting everyone on edge. Venus connected to Mars reads like a child’s astrology primer of “female” (Venus) “athlete” (Mars), and the square relationship insinuates conflict of some sort.
Let’s take a quick detour and note here that both Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka also have strong Venus/Mars contacts in their nativities. Born 8:28 PM EDT on 26 September 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan (Rodden Rating AA), Williams has Mars at 15 Leo closely squared Venus at 16 Scorpio; Naomi Osaka (born 16 October 1997, no time available) has them conjunct, with Venus at 9 Sagittarius and Mars at 12. So for Serena, the skies were repeating a birth pattern that already inclines her to fractious relations with other women, especially fellow athletes. This serves her well on the court, but when it boils over into what she considers attacks (Mars) on her ethics (Venus), we have a problem.
But to return to the day, there is also an exact pairing of Jupiter and asteroid Toro at 18 Scorpio, exactly sextile Pluto at 18 Capricorn. Although Mars rules physical activities like tennis matches directly, Jupiter also has affinities via its rulership of sporty Sagittarius, and Toro is noted for its explosive temper and tendency to bully. This works both ways – an active Toro may evoke bulling behaviors in oneself or attract these from others, and here we have an instance where both seem to apply, allied to Jupiter’s gift for blowing things out of proportion. Williams perceived that the umpire and the ref were being unfair to her (she later alleged sexism), and in response got all-up-in-your-face-ish, unable to control her temper though she well knew the likely consequences. The exact sextile to Pluto from this pair increases the drama and trauma, acting as a catalyst for the expression of deeply-felt emotion.
And to put that cherry on top, this pairing opposed asteroid Queen’s at 15 Taurus, for the venue of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, exactly trined the 15 Virgo Sun and in a powerful stationary position, about to turn retrograde three days later. Embedded and entrenched, stationary points are unyielding, and have an authority and sway far greater than typical for that body. It was not a day for compromise; add in the fact that transit Queen’s exactly squares her natal Mars and Jupiter/Toro sat on her Venus, and Williams simply could not let go of the perceived injustice, in that place and at that time, under those circumstances.
15 was the super-active degree of the day, with not only the Sun and Queen’s at that degree, but also transit asteroid Williams, exactly squared the Sun from 15 Gemini, highlighting Serena for the day, for good or ill; and Neptune at 15 Pisces, forming an exact T-Square and lending an atmosphere of debilitation, lack of focus or confidence, and confused thinking. Add in asteroid Carla, for umpire Carlos Ramos, at 15 Cancer in exact sextile to the Sun, and we have a cosmic full court press (if I may mix my sporting metaphors). The celestial timing required to bring all these points to the same degree of their respective Sings in that singular moment is awe-inspiring in its precision, and gloriously beautiful in its manifestation, even when the result is something as ugly as this.
With Mars sesquiquadrate to both the Sun and Williams from 29 Capricorn, forming a Thor’s Hammer pattern, the element of conflict involving Williams again arises, and she used that Hammer to beat out the Anvil Chorus on Ramos, whom, with asteroid Carla trined Jupiter/Toro and opposed Pluto, she saw as a bully (Toro) and oppressor (Pluto) at the sporting event (Jupiter). Williams also conjoined asteroid Nemesis at 13 Gemini, that point of self-undoing, prompting her to act in less than her best interests.
There is no Serena asteroid, but there is a Serenajing, a composite of first and last names. At 2 Aquarius, Serenajing conjoins Mars and exactly squares Uranus at 2 Taurus, also trined Mercury at 4 Virgo, inclining Serena Williams (in the form of Serenajing) to angry (Mars) rhetorical (Mercury) outbursts (Uranus), not to mention an over-all disagreeable or contentious attitude, something caustic simmering under the surface brought on by the Mars aura, connected to a PNA associated with her.
Naomi Osaka is there, too, with both her names having exact PNA (Personal-Named Asteroid) matches. Asteroid Osaka at 18 Libra is exactly squared Pluto, and T-Squares Carla, while sitting directly atop Williams’ natal Saturn/Jupiter/Pluto combination at 11, 17 and 23 Libra. This sets off those natal points in very personal ways tied directly to her match opponent, while for Osaka the exact square to Pluto provides drive and force for the day, a transformational experience, but also potential contact with scandal. Asteroid Naomi at 29 Virgo is exactly trined Mars, adding more positive reinforcement (trine) for an energetic , peak performance (Mars); and exactly sextile asteroid Ash (for the Arthur Ashe Stadium) at 29 Cancer, itself opposed Mars, firmly establishing it as the venue for the competition and the contention, both Mars-ruled.
Of course, Venus at 29 Libra makes Mars/Ash a T-Square and signals the involvement of women; its placement exactly on Williams’ natal Mercury gave her the opportunity to choose more conciliatory words, but was overmastered in the moment by Mars in exact square to that Mercury, especially with its energies predominant at the time, given the competitive nature of sports and the natural aggression it foments. Incidentally, Naomi also squares TNO Chaos at 23 Gemini, granting Osaka more than she bargained for, as the tennis match devolved into a shouting match between her opponent and the game’s monitors.
So much for the day. We’ve touched on some of the character traits of those involved, let’s dig a little deeper.
Serena Williams is about as Libran as you can get, with Sun, Saturn, Jupiter, Pluto and Mercury all in the Sign of the Scales. Whether that makes her a balanced individual, you can judge for yourself; this latest fracas is not her first heated interaction on the courts. Part of that stems from that Venus-Mars square noted earlier, but another large component is likely her own emphasized Toro, noted for its drama, stubbornness, extreme anger and aggressive moves. At 10 Scorpio, natal Toro conjoins the 3 Scorpio Descendant, giving it angular force and impact. It’s within orb of Venus, so she’s sensitive to issues of sexism; perhaps over-sensitive. It also squares Mars, doubling down on the assertiveness-aggression spectrum, while her Taurus Ascendant, which it opposes, reinforces its stubborn bent. And finally, there is a close conjunction of Toro with asteroid Carla at 9 Scorpio; Williams was predisposed to look at Carlos Ramos as an oppressing, bullying figure, and to react to him that way, like the charging bull the point is named for.
With both the Moon at 20 Virgo and the Sun at 3 Libra conjoined asteroid Sisyphus at 27 Virgo, Williams is indomitable; nothing stops her. She pushes herself, both physically and emotionally (Moon), as well as an internal, energetic level (Sun), to keep plugging away at whatever task she sets herself (Sisyphus, named for that resident of Hades doomed to forever roll his rock uphill, only to have it roll back down, thus necessitating a ceaseless duplication of the action). But she may feel like she’s spinning her wheels, stuck in her life, not really advancing her agenda, or having to repeat these steps endlessly.
That Sun opposes a pairing of asteroid Naomi at 5 Aries with Nemesis at 1 Aries. She’s primed to see Osaka as a rival, someone blocking her goals, an implacable opponent (all Nemesis). Since Nemesis is not just about others blocking us, but also about the ways in which we undo ourselves, she may even have been somewhat defeatist in this match, realizing early on that the day just wasn’t hers. And while Naomi Osaka was indeed her professional nemesis in this match, she also played the part for Osaka, by robbing her of the full glory of her win with these histrionics. A T-Square is formed to this polarity by asteroid Queen’s at 8 Cancer, describing the ground upon which Williams and her nemesis would meet.
Asteroid Ash at 14 Aries is a little too wide to be considered in opposition to the Sun (though it’s within orb of Naomi), but it does oppose Saturn and Jupiter, refining the specific locale of this sports-related (Jupiter, at 17 Libra) setback (Saturn, at 11 Libra) to the Arthur Ashe Stadium (Ash). Ash is also in a Grand Trine with Mars at 15 Leo and Achilles at 14 Sagittarius, this last point representing an inherent weakness or vulnerability, identified as in a competition setting by Mars. Note how the transit Williams/Nemesis pairing at 15 and 13 Gemini transforms this pattern into a Kite, with the driving “string” Serena herself and her own power to self-defeat. No doubt, Williams was her own worst enemy on this day.
Natal Serenajing is interesting. At 27 Sagittarius it’s part of a remarkable exact tripe conjunction with Pandora and Karma. Williams just can’t help opening up that can of worms, unleashing all sorts of unintended consequences (Pandora), and she’s predestined to do so (Karma), it’s something she just can’t seem to avoid. The saving grace here is this group’s close conjunction with the Galactic Center at 26 Sagittarius, offering Williams global notice and attention. Natal asteroid Williams at 24 Libra closely conjoins Pluto; Williams has a powerful core of steel, but she can be manipulative and coercive, sometimes working in an underhanded fashion, and isn’t always concerned with how she attains her ends.
Venus at 16 Scorpio is too far wide to be in conjunction with Uranus at 27 Scorpio, but unfortunately, asteroid Osaka at 20 Scorpio unites them, perhaps adding further fuel to Williams’ volatile outburst and over-reaction to the charge of coaching (which her coach later admitted to). Like Venus, Osaka squares Mars, so Naomi Osaka’s mere presence acts as a tinderbox, even if not directed at her (Williams was very gracious to her opponent after the defeat, asking the crowd not to express their displeasure and granting that Osaka had given the better performance).
And what of the hapless Naomi Osaka, caught up in this maelstrom not of her own creation? Unfortunately, her Nemesis/Sun/Mercury conjunction at 16, 23 and 25 Libra walks right into the worst corners of Williams’ Libra stellium, activating her potential to overreact (Jupiter) and go volcanic (Pluto), mouth off (Mercury) and suffer a career setback (Williams’ Saturn with Osaka’s Nemesis). The placement of Osaka’s natal asteroid Williams in this mix from 21 Libra doesn’t help, serving to further personalize her impact. It’s interesting that Osaka, 16 years younger, was born at about the time Williams had a Williams return, as if part of her life mission is to reinforce Williams’ natural tendencies toward overly aggressive rhetoric (Pluto/Mercury). Osaka’s asteroid Williams on her own Sun shows Serena as in some sense self-defining for her (she had a lifelong admiration of Williams, dreamed of competing against her, and even did a book report on her as a child), and a possibly transformative agent in her life, given the synastry from Sun/Williams to Serena’s Pluto, which Osaka’s defeat of her will surely engender.
We spoke briefly of Osaka’s natal Venus/Mars conjunction at 9 and 12 Sagittarius. Natal Pluto joins these from 3 Sagittarius, as does asteroid Naomi, at 13 Sag, indicating a female athlete (Venus/Mars) of that name (Naomi) who is an energetic powerhouse (Pluto). Note how these points feed right into Williams’ natal Achilles, that spot of vulnerability; this also forms a Grand Trine with Osaka’s natal Achilles/Saturn at 15 and 16 Aries, and her natal Serenajing at 8 Leo, suggesting she can point up career (Saturn) weaknesses (Achilles) for Williams (Serenajing). This Grand Trine overlays William’s own, so the temporary Kite formed from transit Williams/Nemesis is strategic in Osaka’s chart as well, and she also connects to the transit T-Square with the Sun and Neptune, creating a Grand Cross.
Natal asteroid Osaka at 25 Virgo brings in both referents for the location, conjunct Ash at 23 Virgo and squared Queen’s at 29 Gemini. It also squares Williams’ natal Neptune at 22 Sagittarius, perhaps further sapping her strength and will to win. Queen’s is stationary in Osaka’s chart (turning direct eight days after her birth), just as it was on the day, repeating the message that this foot of soil on the globe is a significant one for her.
Natal Uranus at 4 Aquarius conjoined transit Serenajing for the competition between them, adding further accents of volatility prompted in Williams by Osaka, albeit unconsciously, without intent. On the day, transit Uranus at 2 Taurus added more combustible material to the mix, and was accompanied by transit Nike at 5 Taurus, named for the Greek goddess of victory. Incredibly, Nike came to its retrograde station that very day! In combination with Uranus, it clearly spells “unexpected win”, as well as adding notes of controversy which could cloud it. [This same pairing has recently brought us Andrew Gillum’s shocking victory in the Florida Democratic governor’s primary race, and the unseating of ten-term incumbent Representative Michael Capuano in the Massachusetts primary by Ayanna Pressley, to become the first black woman to represent her state in Congress.]
All in all, another stunning example of just how intimately the cosmos is connected with our daily lives, when put under the celestial microscope of the Asteroid Sleuth.