Defending champion, Serena Williams, survived a gruelling first-round encounter with Aravane Rezai to advance 6-3 3-6 6-1 at Wimbledon.
Williams has not lost in the first round of her previous 44 Grand Slams, but was pushed hard in a 96-minute win.
Rezai, ranked 61st in the world, took the second set after going toe-to-toe with Williams’ powerful groundstrokes.
But the Frenchwoman’s momentum seeped away over the course of the decider as Williams swept to an emotional win.
“It has been a disaster year but I have been praying, I have my family and I love tennis, and to come back at Wimbledon and win is just awesome,” said a tearful Williams told BBC Sport after the match.
She will face either Simona Halep or Bojana Jovanovski next.
World number 61, Rezai had led by a set and 5-2 in the pair’s only previous meeting before slipping to defeat in 2010’s Sydney International.
But she has endured a difficult start to 2011 securing only five wins in 12 tournaments after the removal of her controversial father from her team.
She spent almost 12 months out of the sport with a foot injury and a subsequent pulmonary embolism before her recent return at Eastbourne.
“I have been praying, I have my family and I love tennis, and to come back at Wimbledon and win is just awesome.”