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Astrology and ‘The Battle of Sexes”riggsKingImage

Some events take on a life of their own. The tennis match between Bobby Riggs, an aging male pro, and Billy Jean King, the most prominent female player of the time, should have been nothing more than a sideshow, a manufactured publicity stunt soon to be forgotten. But, instead, it has found a permanent place in our popular culture and the advance of women’s rights.

I’m pretty sure that astrologer’s back in 1973 must have remarked  on the fact that on Sept. 20 Mars and Venus were in opposition. (Click on “Battle of the Sexes” to see the chart.) What better aspect for a showdown between the masculine and feminine? Riggs had played Margaret Court a few months earlier in front of an audience of merely 5,000. His match with King was being played in Houston’s Astrodome and broadcast on prime time TV. As we say in astrology, timing is everything.

At the same time, Saturn was square Pluto. I think that this aspect refers to what else was going on in the world at that time. The investigation into the Watergate affair was gaining serious momentum and South Vietnam, now without the support of the U.S., was quickly falling to the armed forces of North Vietnam. With all this happening in the background, people were ready for a diversion.

Looking at the aspects to Riggs’ chart (click on Bobby Riggs to see a double chart), his intention at the time is clear. Transiting Neptune (moving retrograde) had just crossed his Ascendant and transiting Jupiter was trine his natal Jupiter. Jupiter was also opposite his natal Neptune, though the aspect was a bit wide at the time of the match. Riggs’ goal had nothing to do with sexism. It was all about self-promotion and spectacle.

Of course, Neptune crossing the Ascendant is often an indication of deception, or at least hidden meaning. Ever since the match it has been claimed by some that Riggs, an avid gambler, bet heavily on King and then threw the match. People close to Riggs have denied this, but with Neptune the truth is always just out of reach.

The situation in Billy Jean King’s chart is quite different. (Click on Billy Jean King to see a double chart.) Interestingly, King’s Neptune forms an exact sextile with Riggs’ Neptune so that the opposition by transiting Jupiter in Riggs’ chart was a trine in King’s. King also approached the match as a stunt, and probably wasn’t all that concerned about who won, at least at the beginning.

But that changed. Also in King’s chart, transiting Mars is square her natal Pluto. This is an aspect of struggle and grit. People forget that early in the first set King was losing. It was only after she decided to take her opponent seriously and fight back hard that her seemingly easy victory came about.

Another interesting aspect in King’s chart that day involved her natal Neptune in her Eighth House. The Eighth House is the place where keep the things we don’t want to talk about, the things that frighten and shame us. The Saturn to Pluto square I spoke about earlier places Pluto on her Neptune and Saturn in a close square aspect. The notoriety King gained because of “The Battle of Sexes” would backfire on her in a major way eight years later when her secret gay lover filed a palimony suit and was given a two million dollar settlement.

Of course, all of this has done nothing to diminish the symbolic significance of that historic tennis match. As I said, some events take on a life of their own, and (as the opposition between Mars and Venus on Sept. 20, 1973 foretold) this was one of them.

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