. . . Meanwhile, Austin Is Back After Semi-Retirement in 1983

Tracy Austin has entered the $250,000 Virginia Slims of Indian Wells, which will mark her return to playing tournament singles for the first time since 1983.

Austin, 26, is a wild-card entry into the 32-player field for the first-year tournament, which begins Monday at Hyatt Grand Champions.

“It’s time to test the waters a little bit,” said Jeff Austin, who is his sister’s agent at Advantage International.

The two-time U.S. Open champion and the youngest player to ever win the Open--she was 16 when she won in 1979--Austin dropped off the tour after the 1983 French Open because of a back injury. An inflamed sciatic nerve forced Austin into a semi-retirement at 20.


Austin returned to playing doubles last August, but began playing singles in exhibitions only in the past six weeks. She will not play doubles at Indian Wells.

One of Austin’s singles exhibitions was in Philadelphia, promoted by International Management Group, which is also promoting the Virginia Slims of Indian Wells and the Virginia Slims of Houston beginning April 24.

“She hasn’t committed to Houston yet, but we’re working on her,” said Barbara Perry of IMG.

Jeff Austin said that Tracy is seriously considering playing singles at the two-week Lipton International Championships that start March 20 at Key Biscayne, Fla.


He said Austin was let out of a potential scheduling conflict by Equitable insurance, which she represents as a spokeswoman. If Austin is in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells on March 10, she won’t have to be in Hawaii representing Equitable at a function she had committed to.