Rafa Nadal needed four games to adjust his sights for grasscourt combat at Wimbledon on Tuesday while another former champion, Serena Williams, powered through to the second round in convincing style.
Mallorcan Nadal, looking to reclaim the title he won in 2008 and 2010, found himself 4-0 down against Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci on Centre Court before a barrage of heavy hitting took him to a 7-6 6-2 6-3 victory in two hours 15 minutes.
Williams, the day after her sister Venus was bundled out in the first round, restored family honour with a 6-2 6-4 defeat of battling Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
After world number one and title holder Novak Djokovic and six-times winner Roger Federer moved safely through on Monday, Andy Murray was the last of the men's big four in first round action later on Centre Court against Nikolay Davydenko.
Wildcard Lleyton Hewitt, the 2002 champion, lost 6-3 6-4 6-4 to French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while 20th seed Bernard Tomic's surprise 3-6 6-3 6-4 6-4 defeat by Belgian wildcard David Goffin made it a bad day for Australia.
Hewitt, still one of the game's most ferocious competitors despite the ravages of his long career, would have raised an eyebrow at 19-year-old Tomic's post-match analysis.
"My quality of tennis should be getting me to a lot of semi-finals, finals at tournaments or even winning," he said.
"But lack of concentration, not working hard, it costs you."
Women's defending champion Petra Kvitova had the honour of opening Centre Court proceedings on what is traditionally Ladies Day at the All England Club.
Like Nadal, she also took a while to find her rhythm before beating Uzbekistan's Akgul Amanmuradova 6-4 6-4 in a match interrupted by the first raindrops of the week.
Deposed world number one Victoria Azarenka was untroubled against Irina Falconi, screaming to a 6-1 6-4 victory while former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, the 24th seed, survived a scare against home favourite Laura Robson before winning 2-6 6-2 6-4.
Second seed Nadal, who has never lost in the first round of a grand slam, admitted he was a touch fortunate to progress in three sets against the 80th ranked Bellucci.
"I served well at the beginning and I made more mistakes than usual," Nadal said. "I was lucky to come back to win the opening set after being 4-0 down."
Serena, whose career has teetered on the brink since she collected her fourth Wimbledon singles title in 2010, was given a decent workout by Strycova on Court Two.
The fired-up 30-year-old let out a roar when she closed out the match and looked in the mood to fly the Williams flag throughout the fortnight after five-times champion Venus's disheartening display on the opening day.
"Definitely a little relief, I think I was letting out a lot of cries. I was happy to get through that," Williams told reporters, refusing to reveal her thoughts on being scheduled on the club's third-largest court.