Serena picked herself up to complete a resounding 6-0 6-0 victory over Edina Gallovits-Hall, a ruthless dominance that world number one and defending champion Victoria Azarenka was unable to replicate as she progressed to the second round.
Swiss Federer beat Benoit Paire 6-2 6-4 6-1 to embark on his campaign for an 18th major title after Briton Murray had steadied his grand slam nerves with a controlled 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory over Robin Haase.
After an underwhelming opening day of the tournament on Monday, the sheer wealth of talent on display on the show courts almost ensured a better day two under the sunny skies at Melbourne Park.
There is no bigger personality in tennis than Williams, who is chasing a third successive grand slam title after wins at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, and the American almost inevitably hogged the spotlight.
Rampaging towards victory, the 31-year-old turned her ankle after hitting a forehand and lay prone on the court for a couple of dramatic minutes – immediately recalling her fall at Brisbane last year that ultimately ended her 2012 Melbourne campaign.
“It was definitely a lot of pain,” she said. “Also a little bit of the memory, as well. So it was definitely a little bit of both. But also at the same time trying to gather myself together and trying to make sure that I can continue.”
She was soon back up, ankle strapped, to complete the rout and said nothing would stop her from taking to court for her second round tie against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.
“I’ll be out there,” she said. “I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there’s no way I’m not going to be competing. I’m alive. My heart’s beating. I’ll be fine.”
While Williams is pursuing her 16th grand slam title, Murray is hoping to bag his second after his triumph at the U.S. Open last year and he made short work of Dutchman Haase.
“There’s nerves in the build-up,” the third seed said. “You just got to try and focus and play solid, not make too many silly mistakes. I did a good job of that today.”
Federer, four times a champion in Melbourne, easily negotiated what had been billed as potentially difficult tie against young French shotmaker Paire.
“I’m obviously very happy with this first-round match, so total control,” he said. “He can be a tricky opponent but I guess his playing style doesn’t disturb me that much overall.”
Federer remained on a third-round collision course with Australian Bernard Tomic, who delighted the home crowd with a 6-3 6-2 6-3 win over Argentine Leonardo Mayer.
Women’s top seed Azarenka was forced to come back from 3-0 down in the second set in her 6-1 6-4 victory over Romania’s Monica Niculescu.