The retractable roof stayed open Monday for the first match on Centre Court at Wimbledon, and Federer fell behind early before charging past Yen-hsun Lu of Taiwan, 7-5, 6-3, 6-2.
In his first match since winning the French Open, Federer failed to convert his first four break-point chances, then lost serve to trail 3-2. But he immediately broke back, broke again in the final game of the opening set and dominated from there.
Im very happy with my first round, Federer said. I thought it was a very solid performance.
Seeking his sixth Wimbledon title, Federer won for the 41st time in his past 42 matches at the All England Club. The lone loss came in last years final to Rafael Nadal, a match hailed by some as the sports best ever.
The tournament began in cloudy but dry weather. When it rains, the translucent roof on the 87-year-old stadium will be closed so play can continue.
I guess the moment will come that Ill play indoors here, Federer said. But you dont really hope for it during the match.
The No. 2-seeded Federer is a strong favorite to win his 15th major title, which would break the record he shares with Pete Sampras.
Advancing on the womens side were 2002-03 champion Serena Williams and 2004 winner Maria Sharapova. No. 17 James Blake was the first seeded player eliminated, but fellow American Mardy Fish advanced.
Federer made his entrance sporting a sleek new white warmup outfit with gold trim that included a jacket with a turned-up collar, a vest, slacks and two-toned shoes. The crowd roared when he appeared, and he responded with a wave and smile.
There were more cheers and a few whistles of approval when he removed his jacket to reveal the vest.
Kind of a little bit more modern look a bit more military jacket this time, but obviously staying true to Wimbledon with the white colors, Federer said. I hope people like it.
By the time the match started, Federer had stripped down to shorts and a short-sleeve shirt. He was assigned to play the first match on Centre Court after defending champion Nadal withdrew Friday because of sore knees.
Rafa deserves it obviously more than I do this year, Federer said. But somebody had to do it, so Im very happy that they chose me. It gets your heart beating, thats for sure.
After being broken early, Federer held every service game. He finished with 10 unforced errors and hit 42 winners from all over the court.
One winner was a running backhand from several steps beyond the sideline, which he ripped up the line into the corner to win the point. It was a spectacular shot even by Federers standards, and the stoic Swiss celebrated with a raised fist as the crowd roared.
Playing second on Centre Court was Serena Williams, who lost only nine points on her serve and beat qualifier Neuza Silva 6-1, 7-5. The No. 2-seeded Williams, runner-up to her sister Venus a year ago, improved to 5-5 since starting the year 21-2.
Im just happy to have a win under my belt here, Williams said. I was a little nervous going into the match.
Sharapova won the final four games of the first set and beat qualifier Viktoriya Kutuzova 7-5, 6-4.
Shes a very aggressive player, Sharapova said. She went for many shots very freely and loosely, and I was just trying to hold on.
Sharapova, making a comeback from shoulder surgery last October, saved a set point in the opening set with a forehand winner and later shook off two awkward spills behind the baseline.
Blake failed to convert a set point in the third set, squandered a 5-love lead in the ensuing tiebreaker and lost to Andreas Seppi 7-5, 6-4, 7-6 (5). Blake also was eliminated in the first round at the French Open last month.
I still feel like I can play with anyone in the world, but its just for some reason lately it has been very inconsistent, Blake said. I know I still have the ability. Its just frustrating, because its happening at big tournaments where Im having my not-so-good performances.
No. 28-seeded Fish never lost serve and led 6-3, 6-2, 4-1 when Sergio Roitman retired with a right shoulder injury. Roitman, ranked 124th, fell to 0-12 in Grand Slam matches.
Theres nothing that I can do about it, he said. Its not that Im not going to sleep at night because of that.
Surprise French Open runner-up Robin Soderling, seeded 13th, rallied to beat Gilles Muller 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-1, 6-2. No. 21 Feliciano Lopez lost to Karol Beck 1-6, 7-5, 6-3, 4-6, 10-8.