Venus Williams’s Big Comeback
From 2003-2005 Venus Williams had become a disappointment to her fans. The former #1 women’s tennis player in the world was on her way out, or so everyone thought. She hadn’t won any major championships, her ranking had tumbled to #16, and she was plagued with numerous injuries. It appeared that fashion and interior design commanded her attention, not tennis.
Then the narrative suddenly changed. In May 2005 she won her first tournament in over a year in Turkey, and then to everyone’s surprise two months later she won the year’s biggest tournament at Wimbledon on July 2nd! That was her 3rd Wimbledon singles championship, but this year she was hardly anyone’s bet to win, being seeded a low #14. The year before she had lost in the 2nd round. This year, however, Venus was arguably the brightest planet in the sky again, practically overnight.
How can this dramatic comeback be explained astrologically? In order to understand what’s happening now we have to first understand her natal horoscope. The dashas and transits, the main tools for prediction in Vedic astrology, activate the promises inherent in the natal horoscope. Let’s first take a look at what the stars and planets say from the moment of birth. Here’s her birth data and horoscope:
Birth Name: Venus Ebone Starr Williams
Birth Date: June 17, 1980
Birth Time: 2:12 PM PDT (+7:00)
Birth Place: Lynwood, California USA
Latitude: 33 N 55; Longitude: 118 W 12
Lahiri Ayanamsha: -23:34:53
Venus William’s Natal Chart
Venus William’s Natal Chart Analysis
Venus Williams has Virgo rising with the ruler of Virgo, Mercury, in the 10th house in it’s own sign in Gemini. This gives her a career orientation and a powerful career at that. How powerful? This is a Bhadra Mahapurusha Yoga (‘yoga’ here means planetary combination) because Mercury is on an angle in it’s own or exalted sign. ‘Maha’ means great and ‘purusha’ means human being. This is a planetary combination that gives her exemplary qualities of Mercury.
The classical texts praise this yoga with descriptions like, “The person is physically strong and healthy, with long arms, commanding stature, a gait with the majesty of an elephant, face like a lion, broad chest and shoulders, and proportionate limbs. The voice is sweet and impressive. The person is virtuous and learned, of a stable mind and very intelligent. Independent in all undertakings, judicious, extremely wealthy, blessed with comforts etc.” This certainly describes her quite well.
This yoga happens to fall in the 10th house elevating her career, status and bringing fame. And if this wasn’t enough Mercury is also Vargottama, meaning it stays in Gemini in the Navamsha chart (9th divisional chart), which further strengthens Mercury. Gemini is an agile, versatile and quick sign, which describe her athletic ability.
Mercury is also conjunct with the Sun, a royal planet, but not too closely so it does not combust (burn up) Mercury. The Sun gains directional strength or ‘Dik Bala’ in the 10th house, which further enhances the status, recognition, leadership, domination and career success.
The Sun is also the 12th lord in the 10th house, which can indicate a number of things – success in foreign countries, or a career that changes frequently, or goes in spurts. For Venus it looks like a combination of these. It can also indicate working for oneself because of the need for a flexible, independent work schedule. She’s recently started her own interior design company.
Overall she will likely become successful quite easily at whatever she does because of the strength of Mercury in her chart, which again is the 1st and 10th lord in the 10th house.
Malavya Mahapurusha Yoga in the 10th house from the Moon
Her success is reinforced by Venus being in it’s own sign of Taurus in the 9th house, which is also the 10th house from the Moon, an important alternate ascendant. This creates another Mahapurusha Yoga, Malavya Mahapurusha Yoga, from the Moon, which further enhances her potential for career success. This is significant because she has been in a Venus mahadasha or planetary period for most of her life, from age 5-25. She has been quite accustomed to being successful from an early age and became a professional tennis player at age 14. Venus in it’s own sign in the 9th house gives her a strong sense of her dharma or life purpose, in her Venus mahadasha. The 9th house is a house of ‘dharma’ along with the 1st and 5th houses.
Venus is also her ‘Atmakaraka’ or indicator of her soul since Venus is the planet with the highest degrees in any sign. For so many reasons is it any wonder that she’s so interested in fashion and design and that her name is Venus?!
Vipareeta Raja Yoga
You’ll notice that she has 4 planets in the 12th house. At first glance you may be surprised to see this in the chart of a world class celebrity. The 12th house is a house of loss, expenditure, isolation, and planets placed there are generally considered weak. However, this is actually a special Raja Yoga or ‘Royal’ Yoga called Vipareeta Raja Yoga formed when the ruler of a dusthana house, the 6, 8, or 12th house, is placed in another dusthana house. The classical texts praise this yoga as well by saying, “This confers learning, longevity, fame and prosperity. The person will have illustrious friends, be successful in all ventures, a conqueror of foes, and a great celebrity.” Again you could say that this describes Venus to a “T.”
Other Yogas: Raja Yoga, Chandra Mangala Yoga and Gajakesari Yoga
This Vipareeta Raja Yoga is enhanced significantly because the Moon is one of the four planets in the 12th house. When you make the Moon the ascendant, several Raja Yogas are formed, by the combining of the lords of the 4th, 5th, 7th and 9th houses. Raja Yogas give career rise and overall success.
This also forms a Chandra-Mangala Yoga because Mars and the Moon mutually aspect one another, being conjunct in the 12th house. This contributes to her ability to earn money easily and accumulate wealth even though it is in the 12th house of losses.
Lastly, this also forms a Gajakesari Yoga because Jupiter is in an angular position from the Moon, being conjunct in the 12th house. ‘Gaja’ means elephant and ‘kesari’ means lion – the two kings of the forest. This yoga gives strength and leadership.
Jupiter, Mars and the Moon are also natural and temporal friends with the Sun, the ruler of Leo in the 10th house, so these yogas increase in strength by virtue of being placed in the sign of Leo.
Leo, the Royal Sign of Leadership
Another important point is that Leo is a sign of royalty, authority and leadership and is the best sign for competitors according to K.N. Rao. Often times you’ll see athletes with strong planets in Leo. Venus’s 4 planets placed here give her a tough competitive edge and ability to dominate. Interestingly, if you look at Venus’s 3rd house of younger siblings (the sign of Scorpio) you’ll see that the 4 planets in Leo are in the 10th house from the 3rd house. This shows that her younger sibling, Serena, also has a powerful career and is a tough competitor. Both Venus and her sister Serena have their Moon’s placed in Leo in their natal charts.
The Drekkana Chart (3rd Divisional Chart)
Incidentally, I believe that Venus must be born at least 14 seconds after 2:12 pm because this would change her Drekkana chart (3rd divisional chart) ascendant from Capricorn to Taurus. This is the divisional chart that describes siblings. From Taurus rising Cancer is the 3rd house, which becomes the ascendant of Serena, her next younger sibling. From Cancer, Mars is in the 10th house in its own sign of Aries forming a Ruchaka Mahapurusha Yoga. Mars is also conjunct Saturn and aspected by Jupiter which is placed in its own fire sign of Sagittarius. These strong influences in fire signs describe Serena’s fierce competitive drive very well. In one interview Venus said, “I want to become as tough a fighter as Serena.” Below are the two Drekkana charts with before 2:12:13 pm on the left and after 2:12:13 pm on the right:
Venus and Serena on the cover of Time Magazine
Dasha and Transit Analysis: Venus Mahadasha April 1985 – April 2005
By this natal chart analysis you’ll see that it is because of the strength of these planetary positions that she has the confidence and inherent ability to dominate and be successful. In an interview she said, “I knew it was my destiny to be in the winner’s circle. There were times along the way when I didn’t make it there. But I felt my destiny was definitely to win big titles, win lots of titles.” If this is the case then what happened over the last two years? Why the slump? What planetary indications represent this? First let’s step back and see the big picture of her dasha scheme and then focus in on the last two years.
Venus is a temporal benefic for Virgo rising because it rules the trinal 9th house. It is also in the 9th house in it’s own sign of Taurus as mentioned. The 9th lord and/or the 9th house gives progress, growth, learning, travel, and fortune. From the Moon, Venus is in the 10th house giving Malavya Mahapurusha Yoga as previously discussed. Venus is also aspected closely by Saturn the 5th lord forming a Dana Yoga between the 2nd, 5th and 9th lords who are all wealth giving planets (the 5th and 9th houses are houses of Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth). This gives her focus, discipline, perseverance, and helps her get established as a leader. Saturn aspecting Venus also reveals the tension with her father, her tennis coach, because Saturn is also the 6th lord representing conflict with the 9th lord, representing the father.
Venus-Saturn and Venus-Mercury have been her two most successful sub periods yet, resulting in wealth, fame and success. Why? Saturn and Mercury are both involved in beneficial yogas, as discussed, that will become activated in their sub dashas within the Venus mahadasha. They are both natural friends of Venus when you consider the two families of planetary friendships: Venus, Saturn, Mercury as opposed to Jupiter, Mars, Sun and the Moon. Both Saturn and Mercury’s ruler or dispositor is placed in the 10th house of career success. Saturn in Leo is ruled, or disposited by the Sun who is placed in the 10th house. Mercury is its own dispositor, since it’s in its own sign of Gemini in the 10th house along with the Sun.
Looking at the mahadasha lord as an alternate ascendant is an important method taught by my teacher, K.N. Rao. In this case, when you make Venus in Taurus an alternate ascendant, then Venus becomes the 1st lord in the 1st house, with both Mercury and Saturn ruling the 5th and 9th trinal houses respectively. This makes them both temporal benefics from Venus in Taurus and indicates that these sub dashas will be very beneficial.
Saturn’s aspect onto Venus from Leo then becomes the 9th and 10th lord aspect to the 1st lord. This forms a spectacular Raja Yoga between Venus and Saturn. Her Venus/Saturn dasha from Feb 1998 – April 2001 was her best period ever. In 2000 she had a 32 match winning streak and won both the singles and doubles (with her sister Serena) at Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Olympics! Venus summed up her 2000 triumphs well by saying, “I guess I’ve graduated to a different level where I can be like some of the greats.”
Transit of Saturn in Gemini: July 2002 to May 2005
This transit of Saturn through Gemini conjunct the Sun and later Mercury represented facing her own limitations (Saturn) regarding her body which is represented by the Sun, significator of the 1st house and the ruler of the 1st house, Mercury. Injuries plagued her – her wrist, stomach and shoulder. Saturn from Gemini also aspects, with it’s special 3rd aspect (sextile), to Leo and her 4 planets – Moon, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn. This aspect especially to Mars, the 8th lord, and Saturn, her 6th lord, represented accidents and injuries in addition to the challenges presented by Saturn’s transit through Gemini over the Sun and Mercury. She went against the advice of her father and played with injuries and later regretted it because it only served to prolong her recovery.
The sign of Gemini, her 10th house, receives 42 sarvashtakavarga points in the ashtakavarga system, which is phenomenally high. Below 20 points is considered weak, above 30 strong, and above 40 very strong. This generally strengthens her 10th house and indicates that transits will be very beneficial through her career house. Saturn’s transit in Gemini contributes 6 of the 42 points, which is a very high number (8 is the highest possible which is very rare) and represents that overall this was not as detrimental a transit over the Sun and Mercury as it could have been. This is a clue that this time period during Saturn’s transit in Gemini did not represent the end of her tennis career as many speculated.
Worst Slump: September 13, 2003 to April 25 2005
Venus-Mercury-Saturn and Venus-Ketu sub dashas were the hardest sub dashas of all. The day after she started Venus-Mercury-Saturn her half-sister, who was her 3rd oldest sister, was shot and killed. The 7th house, the sign of Pisces, represents the 3rd oldest sister because the 11th is the next oldest, the 9th the 2nd oldest, and the 7th the 3rd oldest. From the 7th house Venus, the dasha lord rules the 8th house, the house of death. Mercury the sub dasha lord rules the 7th house, which is a maraka (killer) house. Saturn the sub sub dasha lord rules the 12th house, the house of loss and is conjunct Mars, the planet of violence in the 6th house of accidents. Venus/Mercury/Saturn could not be a good dasha for her 3rd oldest sister.
This began a cycle for Venus of grief and disillusionment. Saturn represents grief and its transit in Gemini was approaching her Mercury in her 10th house causing her to evaluate and question herself (1st lord) and her career (10th lord). A few months later she began her 14-month sub dasha of Ketu, which began in February 2004. The press during this time speculated that she had lost her motivation, confidence and desire to win. She seriously contemplated retirement. These are typical traits of a Ketu dasha. We become disillusioned with the status quo and begin looking outside of our normal experience. She became attracted to other life directions like interior decorating and fashion while her injuries required her to convalesce.
The Big Comeback: April 25 2005 to Aug 13 2005
he first sign of a significant astrological event that could indicate a comeback was simply the ending of the Venus-Ketu sub dasha at the end of April, 2005. Ketu is a reflective, contemplative planet. It is the moksha karaka or significator of spritual liberation and is not interested in worldy fame and success. Usually people’s level of motivation and drive is at an all time low during a Ketu dasha. Ketu’s influence often leads people into simplifying their lives, convalescence, retreat, isolation, exploring in unusual directions etc. It is often a time of inner work or inner preparation for a creative phase that follows Ketu dashas. This is because Venus dashas (creativity) always follow Ketu dashas (unless it’s a Venus-Ketu sub dasha which is followed by Sun mahadasha).
The second indication of a comeback is simply that the 6-year Sun Dasha began next. The Sun, as we have seen in our natal interpretation, is conjunct the 10th lord Mercury in the 10th house where it gets directional strength. Because of this the focus shifts again to career success. The Sun benefits by association with such a strong Mercury as explained earlier. There are modifications to this because the Sun rules the 12th house but let’s save that discussion for later.
The third indication is that on May 27th Saturn left the sign of Gemini by transit. The influence of Saturn in the 10th house tightly conjunct Mercury her 1st and 10th lord and aspecting Mars and Saturn in the 12th house was heavy and burdensome especially in a reflective Ketu sub dasha. She felt the pressure to recover her health to 100% so she could return to her old form. This became a huge weight that was lifted at the end of May. In an interview after winning Wimbledon she said, “I have to thank God for letting me be healthy.”
The fourth indication is that on June 5th Jupiter went direct by transit in her ascendant after being retrograde for 4 1/2 months. Jupiter was now approaching her ascendant degree, which is one indication for improved health, happiness, and overall success. Jupiter also receives an extremely high 7 ashtakavarga points in Virgo, which further enhances the positive qualities and strength of this transit.
The 5th indication is that the double transit of Jupiter and Saturn was now in her ascendant and 5th house, two dharma houses that fuel her to progress and move forward in her life purpose, because Jupiter and Saturn were both aspecting these houses by transit. This improves her health and self-confidence (1st house) and creative, dynamic self-expression (5th house).
Having the dashas and major transits lining up to indicate a comeback allows us to now look more deeply at the other transits, particularly of the mahadasha lord, the Sun, or to the Sun by other planets. This is a subtler consideration that shouldn’t be emphasized early in one’s analysis because it doesn’t carry the weight as do the dashas and major transits.
Here’s the 6th indication. Isn’t it amazing that on the day of her Wimbledon final with Lindsey Davenport that the Sun was transiting in Gemini, her 10th house?! As mentioned earlier, her 10th house of Gemini gets an incredible 42 sarvashtakavarga points, the most of any of her houses. This strengthens all transits through this house tremendously. The Sun contributes a very high 6 binnashtakavarga points making the Sun’s transit between June 15th and July 16th in Gemini particularly powerful and helpful for her to win a major Grand Slam event. It’s interesting to note that the Wimbledon tournament is always scheduled while the Sun is in Gemini, which is one reason she’s had such a history of success there. She won it in 2000, 2001 and was runner up to her sister in 2002, 2003. 2004 was her Ketu sub dasha with a difficult transit of Saturn as we’ve discussed. And she won again in 2005. She said:
You never know what life is going to throw at you, and each and every day I just expect the Sun to come up, that’s all, these days.
I understand Venus! Spoken well by someone with the Sun overhead at birth with Mercury in the 10th house giving her such a bright career!