Naomi Osaka overcame an attack of nerves and Serena Williams put on a “vintage” performance as the coronavirus-delayed Australian Open finally got underway on Monday.
World number two Simona Halep also breezed past Australia’s Lizette Cabrera in straight sets in another convincing start by one of the tournament’s leading lights.
Men’s champion Novak Djokovic opens his bid for a record-extending ninth title in the evening session at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.
Form and fitness are highly unpredictable at the Australian Open after the coronavirus wiped out five months of last season and badly disrupted preparations for the first Grand Slam of 2021.
Williams started her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in style with a 6-1, 6-1 romp past Germany's Laura Siegemund in 56 minutes.
“This was a good start, it was vintage Serena,” said the 39-year-old, playing an unparalleled 100th match at the tournament and turning heads in a brightly coloured, one-legged catsuit.