This week, with Wimbledon and the release of 'Battle Of The Sexes' --- a film documenting the epic 1973 match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs that challenged sexism in sport -- all eyes are firmly on women's tennis.

Since King's victory, the sport continues to grow in popularity. In 2012 alone more than 5.4 million attended women's tennis events, according to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA), with even more tuning in on TV.

But although the sport has come a long way -- since 2007 men and women have split Wimbledon's prize money equally, this year winners will get £1.6 million each -- there is still a long way to go.

Scroll down for our favourite women in tennis

Speaking to HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Tim Woodhouse, Head of Policy at Women's Sport And Fitness Foundation (WSFF) says: "There have been changes but there are still many disparities left in sport."

"We hope that Billie Jean King's story will encourage girls and young women to continue participating in sport despite the challenges they may face."

And face challenges they will. Just last year Gilles Simon reignited the equal pay debate by saying that women tennis players should get paid less than men.

His reasoning? Women play three sets in tennis, while men play five.

World No. 1 Serena Williams was quick to laugh Simon's comments off: "I started playing tennis at two years old. I'm sure he started when he was two years old, as well. I worked just as hard as he did."

When asked why tennis is so much bigger than other women's sports, WSFF's Tim says it's due to the individual nature of the game.

"Female tennis players are amongst the highest profile sportswomen in the world," he says. "And very few other women’s sports have such focused media attention.

"They take part in four Grand Slam championships a year, where the global media spotlight is on them for two weeks at a time."

He adds that tennis offers young women healthy role models.

"Tennis is important as girls grow up with little knowledge of female sporting icons."

Here are some of the fiercest female tennis players on the court (past and present) and why we love them.

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  • Billie Jean King

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> She showed Bobby Riggs (and the rest of the world ) that women and men should be equal, by beating him in the Battle of the Sexes match in 1973. He'll never say this again: "Billie Jean King doesn't stand a chance against me, women's tennis is so far beneath men's tennis."

  • Serena Williams

    <strong>Why we love her: </strong> She's not only world number one (as if that wouldn't keep her busy enough) but has devoted a lot of time to charity. She has <a href="http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/9044/title/serena-williams#stats" target="_blank">opened two Serena Williams Secondary Schools in Kenya and makes various appearances for at-risk youths. </a>

  • Maria Sharapova

    <strong>Why we love her: </strong> She's ranked world number three, gives to charity and is <a href="http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/9499/title/maria-sharapova#sthash.m2QewtHx.dpuf" target="_blank">the most-followed female athlete on Facebook with 8.8 million fans.</a> Oh and she's also got a great sense of humour. <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/tennis/23024272" target="_blank">During a recent interview she playfully confronted Novak Djokovic,</a> after her mimicked her on-court mannerisms when playing against her boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov.

  • Margaret Court

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> She won more major titles than any other player (male or female) in history.

  • Li Na

    <strong>Why we love her: </strong> Li Na claimed the first-ever grand slam women's singles title for China and Asia.

  • Suzanne Lenglen

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> <a href="http://www.france.fr/en/outstanding-men-and-women/suzanne-lenglen-1899-1938" target="_blank">At the start of the twenties, she also revolutionised the women's tennis dress code, wearing shorter skirts for playing better.</a>

  • Justine Henin

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> Jon McEnroe describe's <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/7401254.stm" target="_blank">Henin's backhand as one of the best the game has seen.</a>

  • Venus Williams

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> The former world number 1 is committed to <a href="http://tv.msnbc.com/2013/06/24/venus-williams-volley-for-equal-pay/" target="_blank">fighting for equal pay for men and women in tennis.</a>

  • Steffi Graf

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> Ranked World No. 1 by the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) for a record 377 weeks — the longest period for which any player, male or female, has held the number-one ranking. She is also founder and Chairperson of Children for Tomorrow, a non-profit foundation with the goal of implementing and developing projects to support children who have been traumatized by war or other crises, and she is directly involved in the running of the foundation and makes regular financial contributions to the organization. - See more at: http://www.wtatennis.com/players/player/2718/title/steffi-graf#sthash.jivQBH7E.dpuf

  • Evonne Goolagong Cawley

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> She was the first indigenous Australian to win a Wimbledon Tennis Championship in 1971.

  • Monica Seles

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> Despite an attack during a match in 1993, where she was stabbed in the back, Seles was not put off playing tennis. She returned to tour in 1995. In 1990 Seles became the youngest-ever French Open champion, aged 16.

  • Martina Navratilova

    <strong>Why we love her:</strong> Billie Jean King said that Navratilova is: <a href="http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/usopen06/news/story?id=2578105" target="_blank">"the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived."</a> She is involved in many charities supporting animal rights, gay rights and underprivileged children.

  • Chris Evert

    Chris Evert-Lloyd of the United States during her Women's Singles Finals match against Martina Navratilova during the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship on 6th July 1985 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon in London,England.(Photo by Steve Powell/Getty Images)

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