Third seed Sharapova, the winner in 2004 aged just 17, eased past qualifier Stephanie Foretz 6-1 6-4, while 1999 champion Davenport battled past Renata Voracova in three sets.
Davenport missed Wimbledon in 2006 through injury and announced her retirement in December that year after learning she was pregnant with her first child. However, the American returned to the tour in 2007 after the birth of son Jagger and is back at the All England Club for the first time in three years despite suffering from a knee injury.
“Jagger travels with me and it’s obviously more of a challenge than life used to be just because there’s always something going on and to look after him,” the 32-year-old said.
“And certainly days like today where I haven’t seen him since I left the house at noon, that gets pretty tough. But we have a great time. He’s a lot of fun to hang out with. There’s a lot of downtime when you’re on the tennis tour. He definitely occupies my time. I did not think I would be back here at Wimbledon, it’s a real treat, a real honour and privilege. I’m really excited to be back here and be able to play.”
As for her knee injury, she added: “It’s been bothering me now for a few weeks. In the latter stages of the second set, I definitely felt like it was getting worse. Luckily, I was able to hit some good shots and go for winners.”
Sharapova, meanwhile, fielded more questions about her outfit – a bizarre tuxedo-style with men’s shorts – than her tennis, but did manage a few thoughts on the match.
“It was definitely a good start, considering I didn’t have a warm-up tournament like I usually do,” said the 21-year-old. “My main goal is just to go out there, get a feel for it as fast as I could and get the job done.
“Obviously, it’s very important to start off the tournament in good form. I knew my opponent has already played a couple of matches.
“I knew (Court One) would be a little bit different from the practice courts. It’s not as worn out, as well. I just wanted to get a feel for it as fast as I could and do the right things and win the match as quickly as I could.”
Second seed Jelena Jankovic shrugged off being made to wait all day for her opening match, easing past Ukraine’s Olga Savchuk 6-3 6-2 in a match which finished at 8.30pm.
It was a good day all round for the seeds, with victories for French Open finalist Dinara Safina, Daniela Hantuchova, Vera Zvonareva and Nadia Petrova. Elsewhere, there were also victories for 22nd seed Flavia Pennetta, who beat Venus Williams in the third round of the French Open recently, and 16th seed Victoria Azarenka, who defeated Tsvetana Pironkova 6-1 6-1.
Austria’s Sybille Bammer, the 26th seed, also advanced after opponent Sofia Arvidsson was forced to retire with an injury in the second set. The Swede took the opening set 6-4 but was trailing 4-1 in the second when she was unable to continue.
The best match of the tournament so far saw Germany’s Julia Goerges beat 23rd seed Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 16-14 in the third set.
Meanwhile number five seed Elena Dementieva was on course to progress to round two when bad light saw her match against Italy’s Maria Elena Camerin suspended. The Russian led 6-3 3-3, with game seven of the second set yet to get under way.