Sharapova pulled out of her Brisbane International title defence earlier this month after hurting her left arm in a practice session.
The Russian veteran, who won the Open in 2008 and finished runner-up in 2015, next faces world No.105 Aliaksandra Sasnovich from Belarus.
EARLIER, women’s seeds tumbled at the Australian Open on Monday, with former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki and American Sloane Stephens the biggest casualties of the women’s draw on the first day of the tournament.
Wozniacki claimed the first set 6-1 but Kazakh opponent Yulia Putintseva rallied in a marathon second set to win it in a tiebreak after 88 minutes before claiming the third set 6-4.
The 3hr 13min match played out in gruelling heat, with both players also needing medical attention – Wozniacki with an ankle injury that required a lengthy medical time-out at the beginning of the third set and Putintseva’s hand issue addressed in the first set.
Having closed out the match 1-6 7-6(3) 6-4, the world No.76 was the first to admit that she couldn’t believe her luck, revealing that she had suffered from extreme nerves in the first set and cramping throughout the third.
But when it came to serving out the match, she tried to forget all about what was unfolding.
“I tried to keep my emotions inside and imagined like I was losing, actually, so I could come back,” Putintseva said.