The Virginia Slims women's tennis circuit, which began in the fall of 1970 as eight disgruntled characters in search of an offer, begins its eighth season Monday with the $100,000 Virginia Slims of Washington.

The 32-woman tournament will run for six days at George Washington University's Smith Center, then be shifted to Capital Center for the finals next Sunday afternoon.

Martina Navratilova, the 21-year-old expatriate Czech who overwhelmed Chris Evert in the finals last year, is the No. 1 seed. She is the only repeat winner in the six years of the local Slims event, having first triumphed here in 1975.

Evert, the 1976 champion, is not playing the Slims circuit this year after domination for four years. But Billie Jean King, who almost single-handedly talked and promoted the women's pro tour to success in 1971-72, is back, and seeded No. 2. She won here in 1974.

Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade is seeded third and plays Rence Richards in the first round Monday evening. Navratilova and King play their opening matches Tuesday evening, against Sharon Walsh and Regina Marsikova, respectively.

Betty Stove, runner-up at Wimbleton and a semifinalist at Forest Hill in 1977, is seeded fourth.

Rounding out the seedings are Dianne Fromholtz and Wendy Turnbull, Greer Stevenas and Terry Holladay.

Turnbull, a semifinalist here last year who is nickednamed "Rabbit" for her speed afoot, beat Rosemary Casals, Wade and Navratilova in succession to reach the final at Forest Hills last September and earn honors as the "most improved" woman player on the pro circuit.

Nancy Richey, now 35, who beat Evert in the final of the inaugural Slims of Washington in 1972, is unseeded. Among the other dangerous unseeded players are the Italian Open Champ Janet Newberry, Kathy Kuykendall, Francoise Durr and Kathy May.

Although the tournament does not formally begin until Monday, there is a "snack preview" today, starting at 2p.m. at Smith Center.

Zenda Liess will play Lesley Hunt in a "preliminary" match for a spot in the main draw, followed by Richey and Brigitte Cuypers in an exhibition with Beth Kaufman of Potomac and Sally Henry, the top two players on the George Washington University women's team.

The third match of the day will pit Pam Shriver of Lutherville, Md., perhaps the second best 15-year-old girl player in the U.S. (behind prodigy Tracy Austin), against Washington Nancy Ornstein in the finals of the qualifying tournament. Kate Latham then will play Laura Dupont in a first round match.

Stove and Navraltilova, who paired for seven doubles championships in the 1977 season, should be the class of the tournament's double field.

In the last three years of competition, Stove has picked up a winner's check in 15 doubles tournament, Navraltilova 10 times and Christ Evert, Rosie Casals, Billie Jean King andFrancoise Durr, six apiece.