Filling a mostly empty stadium court with her familiar shrieks on Wednesday, the former world No. 1 beat Elena Vesnina of Russia 6-1, 6-4 in a match postponed one day because of rain. That meant Azarenka reached the second round 72 hours after some players.
"I felt like I'm one of the last ones to start," she said. "It was a long wait, but I think performance-wise it was a good match."
The Australian Open champion in each of the past two years, the No. 3-seeded Azarenka is hoping for a breakthrough at Roland Garros, the only major where she has yet to reach a semifinal.
In other first-round matches, No. 4-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska beat Mallory Burdette of the United States 6-3, 6-2, No. 7 Petra Kvitova outlasted wild card Aravane Rezai of France, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, and No. 12 Maria Kirilenko beat fellow Russian Nina Bratchikova 6-0, 6-1. No. 23 Klara Zakopalova lost to Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 7-6 (3), 6-2.
In men's second-round play, No. 4 David Ferrer broke serve eight times and beat fellow Spaniard Albert Montanes 6-2, 6-1, 6-3. No. 10 Marin Cilic defeated 18-year-old Australian Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
No. 24 Benoit Paire of France defeated Marcos Baghdatis in a rain-interrupted first-round match, 3-6, 7-6 (1), 6-4, 6-4.
Azarenka wore down Vesnina with her noisy but steady baseline game, committing only 13 unforced errors. Vesnina, ranked 38th, fell to 1-19 against top-five players and has yet to take a set in five matches against Azarenka.
Azarenka needed only half an hour to win the first set, fell behind in the second, then finished with several booming strokes and a fist pump. Speaking to the crowd afterwards, she tried to match rival Serena Williams' feat of speaking French but stumbled.
"I know 'Je t'aime, Paris,' and I know 'Allez,'" she said with a laugh. "Merci beaucoup."