John McEnroe is back on the English tennis scene, trying not to favor his tender left ankle but "just that little bit apprehensive" about repeating as Wimbledon champion a few weeks hence.

McEnroe opens play in Manchester today in a small-potatoes grass court tournament. His ankle, he said, "is getting better and stronger every day, but it gives me problems mentally . . . .

"Last year at Wimbledon," said McEnroe, remembering his hassles with officials and media, "were the worst two weeks of my tennis career. Everyone knows how I feel and I was brave enough to speak out about it. It is obvious now from what other players have said (Vitas Gerulaitis latest into the knock-Wimbledon act) that my feelings are shared" . . .

Indy 500 Chief Steward Tom Binford appraises: "Anytime you have a race without injuries, you've got to give it a top grade."

The finish was made official yesterday, only minor changes, none in order of placing.

Binford blamed nobody for the foulup behind the pace car that knocked out four entrants. Questioners, Binford said, would have to ask pole-sitter Mears why he came down so slowly, 80 mph "when you expect 120, certainly 100," toward the green flag that signals race's start . . .

Jim Craig, the hockey goalie, will be charged with vehicular homicide for the collision in which one woman in the other car was killed, one critically injured while he escaped virtually unscathed. Craig's agent, Bob Woolf, said the former Olympic hero, "terribly shook up," insists he was in the proper lane but swerved as the victims' car came at him . . . One more arrest for Rommie Loudd, ex-NFL linebacker, ex-WFL executive, ex-convict: now put on leave as director of Greater Fort Myers Community Development Corp. following a Florida drug bust.

Ex-Dodger Don Drysdale, now a White Sox 'caster, was mugged in Cleveland early Sunday, accosted by two men at a downtown hotel elevator. He kicked a knife from the hand of one and bent back the gun-bearing arm of the other before the fight spilled into the street and he was slugged woozy. Robbed of a $5,000 watch, a neck chain and about $500 in loose bills, Drysdale took six stitches in his head . . .

Tennis: some comers--Rick Fagel, Jeff Simpson, Juan Farrow--pushing at world's top 50 are due for $10,000 USTA Pro Circuit-Michelob Light Masters at Rock Creek June 7-13; punctuated by a celebrity tournament June 10 . . . On June 11, Charles Town Turf Club will show big-screen Holmes-Cooney as an entry with racing; early post, 5:15 . . .

San Francisco 1B-3B Darrell Evans could be crossing the bay; Giants don't deny clearing him through NL waivers and talking serious trade with Oakland . . . Forty-Niner OG Randy Cross, swinging on an obstacle-course rope in a charity event at Marine World-Africa USA, lost his grip, fell, broke his lower left leg, is out at least through preseason.